CLEVELAND — Home improvement retailer Home Depot and paint and coatings company Sherwin-Williams both announced that they would phase out use of methylene chloride in paint removal products.
The world’s largest home improvement retailer, The Home Depot, announced on June 19 that the company would remove the products that contain methylene chloride and n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) by the end of this year. Home Depot was the third major retailer this month to commit to pulling the products from store shelves.
Sherwin-Williams announced on June 15 that it would phase out the use of methylene chloride in its paint removal products by the end of this year. The company, which operates more than 4,600 company-owned stores in the United States, Canada and Latin America, also confirmed it does not sell and does not plan to sell paint strippers containing NMP.
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and the Natural Resources Defense Council sent both companies a letter urging them to phase out the sale of these products. The Sherwin-Williams’ announcement came two weeks after Lowe’s became the first major U.S. retailer to announce a ban on paint strippers containing chemicals that have been found to pose unacceptable health risks, including cancer, harm to the nervous system and childhood development, and even death.
In 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a ban on paint removers that contain methylene chloride and NMP. Methylene chloride has been linked to more than 60 deaths nationwide since 1980 and is also linked to lung and liver cancer, neurotoxicity and reproductive toxicity. In turn, NMP, which can be substituted for methylene chloride in paint removers, impacts fetal development and can cause miscarriage and stillbirth. According to the EPA, more than 60,000 U.S. workers and 2 million consumers are exposed to methylene chloride and NMP annually.
Lowe’s was the first major U.S. retailer to commit to banning methylene chloride and NMP globally after more than 200,000 consumers signed petitions urging the company to act. Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families sent Lowe’s and Home Depot letters warning the companies about the dangers of these chemicals, much like the letter sent to Sherwin-Williams, and requested that the stores 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 shelved the proposed ban soon after Scott Pruitt was confirmed as EPA Administrator, and the agency has taken no action in 18 months. In May, two days after EPA Administrator Pruitt met with families who have lost loved ones due to methylene chloride exposure in the past 18 months, the EPA announced that it would finalize a methylene chloride rule. However, the agency has revealed few details on its planned regulatory action, offered no timeline and has taken no action on NMP.