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EPA Bans Paint Stripper Ingredient

Crackdown on methylene chloride comes after at least 88 deaths

9 May, 2024

The Environmental Protection Agency has officially banned methylene chloride, a carcinogen found in paint strippers.

Since 1980, at least 88 people have died from acute exposure to methylene chloride in paint strippers, according to the EPA. That includes several people who were well-trained and well-equipped, indicating professional painting contractors were not immune to the hazard.

“Exposure to methylene chloride has devastated families across the country for too long, including some who saw loved ones go to work and never come home,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a press release.

Paint Stripper

Methylene chloride is a colorless liquid that poses a host of dangers. Methylene chloride turns into carbon monoxide in the body, cutting off oxygen to the heart. At high doses, it can turn off the breathing center in the victim’s brain.

Long term, methylene chloride can cause chronic illness. The damage to the nervous system may lead to cognitive impairment, including loss of attentiveness. There’s also the issue of cancer, which can impact the liver, brain, and lungs.

The EPA has been investigating these risks since January 2017, when the agency issued a proposed rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

“EPA’s final action brings an end to unsafe methylene chloride practices and implements the strongest worker protections possible for the few remaining industrial uses, ensuring no one in this country is put in harm’s way by this dangerous chemical,” Regan said.

Painting and coating removal were some of the highest exposure risks. Compounding the problem, these stripping agents are often used in areas with limited ventilation, including bathrooms. Methylene chloride is heavier than air, so the highest concentration drifts to the floor, where painting contractors are often working on their knees.

Despite these risks, paint-stripping products containing methylene chloride have been widely available for sale in retail stores. 

Hopefully, you’ve already stopped using any products that contain methylene chloride. If not, here are several replacement products that don’t contain methylene chloride and will still help you get the job done:

  • 3M Safest Stripper Paint and Varnish Remover
  • Rust-Oleum Paint Stripper for Concrete
  • Wolman DeckStrip Acrylic Stain Remover
  • Citristrip Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel
  • Crown STRP SURE Paint Stripper Gel
  • DS Super Remover New Generation




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Does your company own at least one AED/Automated External Defibrillator?


Did you attend any in-person paint industry events in 2023?


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