Chicago Sun-Times

EPA cracks down on use of deadly paint stripper

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WASHINGTON — The Environmen­tal Protection Agency on Friday banned consumer use of a popular but deadly paint stripper but stopped short of also banning commercial use of the product by tradespeop­le.

EPA Administra­tor Andrew Wheeler signed the rule, which will bar manufactur­e and import of the stripper methylene chloride for consumer use, in a private meeting Friday with relatives of a man who died while using the paint stripper.

The EPA cited “the acute fatalities that have resulted from exposure to the chemical” and an “unreasonab­le” risk to consumers. Retail stores have until later this year to remove the product from sale. Many big chains already stopped sale of products with methylene chloride in recent months, amid a campaign led by environmen­tal groups and families of men overcome and killed by fumes from the paint stripper.

Goopy, strong-smelling products containing methylene chloride have been a go-to product for do-it-yourselfer­s for decades. But fumes from the product can affect the central nervous system, sometimes causing disorienta­tion and death. The state of California says it has tracked at least five U.S. deaths from methylene chloride since 2014.

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