EPA finalized a rule last week to ban the manufacture or sale of paint strippers containing the toxic chemical methylene chloride to consumers. The Agency also signaled its intention to develop federal regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act to limit the use of methylene chloride paint strippers for commercial applications.
EPA's final rule is scheduled to go into effect in six months. However, in advance of EPA's actions, many national home improvement stores have voluntarily stopped selling paint stripping products containing methylene chloride. EPA's decision to ban the consumer use of these paint strippers was in response to several reported accidental deaths from using paint removal products containing methylene chloride, including instances where contractors were removing paint from bathtubs. Many of these deaths are linked to inadequate ventilation and personal protective equipment.
Remodelers and other NAHB members who use consumer paint stripping products containing methylene chloride should use appropriate personal protective equipment including respirators and protective clothing, gloves and eyewear.
You can refer to OSHA guidelines for proper handling and work place controls for methylene chlorine. Individuals interested in non-methylene chloride paint removal should review information from the Centers for Disease Control and California Department of Public Health.
To develop a proposed rule to restrict the use of methylene chloride for commercial paint and coating removal, EPA is currently accepting public comments on the types of federal training, certification, and work practice requirements that could be imposed on commercial users of methylene chloride-based paint and coating removal products. After receiving comments in about 60 days, EPA will then develop a proposed rule.