The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been sued for its failure to ban methylene chloride, a chemical used in some paint strippers that has been linked to a number of deaths.
E&E News reported that a group including the mothers of two men who died while using paint strippers containing the chemical filed suit in a federal district court in Vermont on January 14. The Vermont Public Interest Research Group, and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families also are parties to the complaint. Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the EPA, also is named in the complaint.
Methylene chloride is a common chemical in paint removers, the suit says, that is responsible for more than 50 deaths, as well as incapacitation, loss of consciousness, and coma in people who came into contact with it. Despite earlier promises to ban products that contain the chemical, the EPA has failed to follow through, the suit alleges, and has violated terms of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The plaintiffs include Lauren Atkins of Pennsylvania and Wendy Hartley of Tennessee. Both had sons who died after using paint remover containing the chemical.
If the EPA has been slow to get the chemical off the market, a number of major U.S. retailers are acting on their own.
In December, Amazon announced that beginning in March it would no longer sell paint removers containing either methylene chloride or a compound called NMP. A number of other retails had already taken that step, including The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, True Value and AutoZone.
In an email earlier this month, GBA asked the EPA’s press office when the agency could be expected to issue new rules on methylene chloride. The office said that “due to a lapse in appropriations,” it would only respond to questions about the government shutdown or an environmental emergency that threatened human life.