CHARLOTTE, NC/WASHINGTON — The home improvement retailer Lowe’s announced that it would phase out the use of two chemicals known as methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) in its paint removal products sold globally by the end of this year. Lowe’s becomes the first major U.S. retailer to commit to ending the sale of such products, which have been found to pose health risks, including cancer, harm to the nervous system and childhood development, and even death.

Lowe’s announced its new policy amid a national campaign led by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, NRDC, and other national and state coalition partners. More than 200,000 consumers nationwide signed petitions urging Lowe’s to act over the past two months. In early May, advocates held a week of action in more than a dozen states demanding that Lowe’s act on methylene chloride. Last year, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families sent Lowe’s a letter warning the company about the dangers of these chemicals and requested that the store stop selling paint strippers containing toxic chemicals.

In January 2017, the EPA proposed banning paint strippers containing these chemicals under the newly strengthened Toxic Substances Control Act, citing the products’ unreasonable risks to human health. The agency has yet to finalize the ban. Two days after EPA Administrator Pruitt met with families who have lost loved ones due to methylene chloride exposure, the EPA announced that it would finalize the methylene chloride rule. However the agency has revealed few details on the regulatory action it plans to take.

Sujatha Jahagirdar, Policy Specialist with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), issued this statement about the decision: “Lowe's is acting to save lives by pulling these products from the shelf. Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt’s EPA has shirked action and catered to the chemical industry instead of facing up to this public health issue.

“Lowe's is showing leadership as the first major U.S. retailer to eliminate methylene chloride paint strippers from its stores. It underscores the failure of this EPA to do its job to protect the American public from dangerous toxic chemicals. Home Depot, Walmart, Amazon and other companies should follow Lowe’s lead, and the EPA should immediately issue a comprehensive ban on deadly chemicals in paint strippers to keep consumers safe.”