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Green Building News

Amazon Will Ban Controversial Paint Strippers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to act on a ban, but retailers are acting on their own

An aviation support technician applies paint stripper to a stanchion aboard an amphibious assault ship in this U.S. Navy photo. Despite the use of protective equipment such as gloves and respirators, users of paint strippers containing methylene chloride have died from exposure to the chemical. (Photo: Naval Surface Warriors / CC BY-SA / Flickr)

Amazon is joining other retailers in banning paint strippers containing chemicals that have been linked to dozens of deaths.

In a policy that becomes effective next March, the retailing giant said it will prohibit the listing or sale of strippers that contain methylene chloride or n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP). Companies selling paint removal products through Amazon must provide documentation that confirms the strippers do not contain either of the two chemicals.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t banned them, but the chemicals have been linked to dozens of accidental deaths, according to a report in The New York Times.

The EPA hasn’t acted on an Obama administration proposal to ban strippers containing the chemicals, but a growing number of U.S. retailers have been taking steps of their own. Lowe’s announced in May that it would no longer sell paint strippers with those chemicals, including such brands as Klean Strip, Goof Off, and Jasco. According to the advocacy group “Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families,” Amazon becomes the 11th major retailer to ban these chemicals, following similar moves by Sherwin-Williams, The Home Depot, Walmart, True Value, PPG Paints and AutoZone.

“We applaud Amazon for prohibiting the sale of these harmful products,” Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, said in a statement posted at the organization’s website.  “While Amazon, Lowe’s and other retailers have stepped up, the EPA has dragged its feet and consumers have suffered. The time for EPA inaction is over.  How many more people have to die before the Trump EPA finalizes this long-delayed ban?”

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families said Amazon’s announcement follows a campaign it launched in 2017 by to phase out the sale of dangerous paint strippers. With partners including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the group organized online petitions that have been signed by hundreds of thousands of consumers and is now pushing Ace Hardware to follow suit. That petition has been signed by nearly 150,000 people.

Health advocates say there’s no practical reason why paint strippers have to include those chemicals. Consumers and contractors in the European Union have been able to buy strippers without methylene chloride for more than five years.

According to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, the EPA shelved its plans for a ban on methylene chloride shortly after Scott Pruitt took over the department as administrator. Last May, Pruitt met with families of some victims of methylene chloride exposure, and the EPA announced shortly after that it would finalize its rule on the chemical “shortly,” the group said.

But details have yet to be announced, and the agency has taken no action on the chemical NMP.

The mothers of two men killed by exposure to methylene chloride announced in October they would sue the EPA for its failure to pull the chemical from the market, the Associated Press reported.


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