Total Ban; Dozens of Deaths

( – Acting upon reports of dozens of deaths, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a total ban on most applications of methylene chloride, a hazardous chemical commonly used in the refurbishment of furniture and bathtubs, which has been associated with fatalities since 1980.

EPA on Tuesday promulgated a regulation that will curtail all consumer uses of methylene chloride, in addition to the majority of its industrial and commercial applications, CBS News reports.

However, there are exceptions for certain uses deemed crucial for national security and the economy, such as the production of environmentally sustainable coolants and components for electric vehicles, as per the EPA’s delineation.

The decision to restrict the usage of methylene chloride follows approximately six years after an investigation by CBS News led to a consensus among three major retailers—Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Sherwin-Williams—to discontinue stocking products containing this chemical by the close of 2018.

Methylene chloride has been identified as a causative agent in a variety of cancers and is known to inflict neurotoxic and hepatic damage. Direct exposure to this substance has been fatal in several instances, the EPA noted.

Since 1980, there have been at least 88 recorded deaths due to acute exposure to methylene chloride, predominantly among individuals engaged in bathtub refinishing or paint stripping.

These fatalities have occurred even among trained professionals who were equipped with personal protective gear.

“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,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan stated.

The comprehensive restrictions are the culmination of a process that began last year when the EPA initially proposed the ban, acknowledging the substantial and potentially lethal health risks associated with methylene chloride.

This chemical is not only prevalent in furniture refurbishment but also plays a role in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and refrigerants.

This regulatory action aligns with another recent EPA initiative to impose limits on the presence of so-called “forever chemicals” in tap water, underscoring the agency’s ongoing commitment to public health and safety.

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