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Maryland PIRG is joined by the Maryland Sierra Club, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the League of Women Voters of Maryland, Safe Skies Maryland, and the Maryland Conservation Council in support of SB82/HB299, sponsored by Senator Lam and Delegate Hill.
The chemicals methylene chloride (DCM) and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), used in paint and coating removal, are not only linked to negative health impacts, they have also caused immediate death, including 3 known deaths in Maryland. These chemicals need to be banned immediately.
Maryland PIRG, along with our sister organizations and coalition partners around the country, petitioned the EPA to ban commercial and consumer uses of DCM and NMP in paint and coating removal. In 2017, the EPA proposed bans on the use of these chemicals, citing “unreasonable risk of injury to health.” According to the Washington Post, as of January, it appears that the EPA may finally be taking steps towards banning the consumer sale of the chemical, but still allowing for commercial use.
We cannot wait any longer to protect Maryland consumers and workers from these deadly chemicals. Safer alternatives are readily available.
Major retailers such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart, and Amazon have committed to stop selling products containing these toxic chemicals. AutoZone and Sherwin-Williams have made similar commitments. Unfortunately, stores have not yet met their commitments. We found products containing DCM and NMP at a Home Depot in Baltimore this week, a month after they said the product would be off store shelves. DCM and NMP are already banned in Europe. The United States and Maryland already place restrictions on DCM: it is banned as an ingredient in cosmetics by FDA; it is prohibited for use in removing lead-based paint by HUD; and, it is considered a potential occupational carcinogen by NIOSH. DCM is also prohibited from use in graffiti removal in 11 States & DC, including Maryland.
These chemicals are highly toxic. If you’ve ever used a can of paint stripper, you know it smells toxic. It is. And even short-term exposure to some paint strippers can be deadly.
- The chemicals can cause asphyxiation and heart attacks.
- Paint strippers containing DCM have been linked to dozens of deaths from uses like refinishing bathtubs, cleaning and gluing carpets, and stripping pools.
- NMP is dangerous too: If a pregnant woman is exposed, her child is at risk of serious developmental problems.
- According to the EPA, Exposure to both DCM and NMP has been linked to liver damage and cancer.
- In December 2018, CBS News covered a story of the death of a 31-year-old Joshua died working on refinishing his bike.
- In December 2017, CBS News covered a story on the death of 21-year-old Kevin Hartley, who died at work refinishing a bathtub. Kevin took a special training course to protect himself from chemicals used to strip paint. But despite wearing gloves and a respirator, he was overcome by the chemicals in the paint stripper he was using.
- December NPR Story: Retailers Plan to Clear Deadly Paint Removers From Shelves, As EPA Delays Ban.
- Maryland’s own Jamie Smith Hopkins wrote a compelling story on DCM and NMP for the Center for Public Integrity, which was published at Slate.
There is no good reason to use such dangerous chemicals in paint strippers. Let’s save lives by banning DCM and NMP in paint strippers. We respectfully request a favorable report on SB82/HB299.
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