TORONTO — Canadian and U.S. groups welcomed Canadian Tire’s decision to phase out certain paint-removing products by the end of this year. The company plans to end the sale of paint strippers containing the chemicals methylene chloride or n-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP). The move follows a campaign in the United States that generated public and industry support to ban these products

“It is great to see Canadian Tire taking steps to protect its customers from products that the federal government should have banned years ago,” said Muhannad Malas, Toxics Program Manager with Environmental Defence. “At a time when consumers are increasingly frustrated by weak regulations on toxics in consumer products, we welcome Canadian Tire’s commitment to keep consumers safe from these two harmful chemicals.”

Earlier this summer, Environmental Defence partnered with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and the Natural Resources Defense Council to urge leading Canadian retailers to remove harmful paint strippers from their stores after a U.S.-based campaign generated public and industry support to ban the products.

“Exposure to methylene chloride from paint strippers is linked to over 60 deaths in the U.S.,” said Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. “The phase-out by Canadian Tire, which follows commitments made recently by other leading retailers including Rona, The Home Depot and Walmart, will ensure that people will not risk their lives when doing something as simple as refinishing a piece of furniture. Other top retailers like Home Hardware, Timber Mart and Dulux Paints should follow suit.”

The Canadian federal government has declared methylene chloride a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) for over two decades. Since then, the government has not taken any steps to regulate it in paint strippers or even label the products to inform consumers about the chemical’s risks. More recently, the government assessed the risks of NMP and proposed that it does not meet the legal definition of toxic to human health — a conclusion that contradicts the findings of United States and international regulators.

“Governments in Canada and the U.S. must step up to ban these chemicals from paint strippers and other consumer products that pose a risk to people’s health,” said Sujatha Bergen, Policy Specialist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “These exemplary actions by Canadian Tire and other companies are leaving no excuse for government inaction.”