Toxic Chemicals constituted in Paint Strippers be banned by EPA

EPA to ban toxic chemicals constituted in paint strippers

10:05 AM, 15th May 2018
Toxic Chemicals constituted in Paint Strippers to be banned by EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Building in Washington. © AP

WASHINGTON, US: The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said it will follow through on an Obama-era proposal suggesting to ban toxic chemical found in paint strippers — leaving lawmakers, environmental groups and the families of victims cautiously optimistic.

Since taking office, Pruitt has been laser-focused on undoing environmental and safety rules proposed by former President Barack Obama’s administration. But the EPA’s announcement that it “intends to finalize” a proposed ban on methylene chloride would be the exception.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates EPA’s commitment to finalize the methylene chloride rule-making,” the EPA said in a statement.

The chemical, used by professional contractors and do-it-yourselfers to remove paint, has been linked to dozens of deaths, including 12 people who specialize in refinishing bathtubs between 2000 and 2011, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

But advocates of the ban reserved full-throated cheers until the rule’s language is made public and submitted to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which the EPA said will happen “shortly.”

Sarah Vogel, vice president for health at The Environmental Defense Fund, said the nonprofit advocacy group was “encouraged” by the EPA’s decision but urged the agency to move quickly to formally block the access to the chemical.

“We and families across this country will be watching closely to make sure this administration actually delivers on today’s promise from Administrator Pruitt,” Vogel said. “We will delay any celebration until paint strippers containing this deadly chemical are actually off the market.”

The EPA first proposed banning the use of methylene chloride in paint and coating removal products in the waning days of former president Barack Obama’s second term. A year earlier, Congress had granted the EPA new powers to restrict the use of that and other chemicals in an amendment to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, the nation’s main chemical safety law.

But in December, the Pruitt’s EPA indefinitely postponed bans on certain uses of methylene chloride and two other deadly chemicals often found in consumer products. For a time, it seemed like the ban headed to the trash bin, along with many other Obama-era rules after President Donald Trump’s election.

That delay in December kicked off an effort to salvage it.

Several Democratic lawmakers asked Pruitt about the chemical and urged him to ban it in a pair of hearings on Capitol Hill last month. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.Y., invoked the deaths of Drew Wynne and Joshua Atkins, who both died from methylene chloride exposure. Pallone asked Pruitt if he had anything to say to those families given the lack of EPA action.

Pruitt didn’t directly address that question, but he made clear that the agency hadn’t abandoned its evaluation of the chemical’s safety. “There has been no decision at this time,” he said at the April 26 hearing.

That did little to satisfy Pallone. “Look, you say you’re going to do something, but these chemicals are still on the shelves, and they make a mockery of [chemical reform] legislation that this committee works so hard on,” Pallone said. “And it makes a mockery of EPA. You have the power immediately to get this chemical off the shelves. And you’re not doing it. And you should do it.”

Later that day, another Democrat from New York, Rep. Nita Lowey, accused Pruitt of “strategically starving programs that identify chemicals that could be harmful to children while rolling back and delaying regulations for deadly chemicals.”

Pruitt replied that the agency was reviewing the comments of the proposal to ban the chemical. “I take this issue very seriously,” he said.

© Worldofchemicals News

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