In December, Amazon issued a statement that it would no longer sell paint stripper products containing the chemicals methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP). As of 2019, the online giant will become the eleventh large retailer to impose a prohibition on these chemicals since May 2018.
Methylene chloride and NMP are suspected of causing serious health risks to users including cancer, nervous system damage, and childhood developmental delays. There have been 50 reported deaths allegedly resulting from acute exposure to methylene chloride in paint strippers, though some experts believe that the number of incidents is actually higher. Because of the potential risks posed by these products, retail giants including Lowe’s, Sherwin-Williams, The Home Depot, Walmart, True Value, and others, have similarly banned these chemicals in paint strippers.
Concerns about methylene chloride and NMP in paint strippers have reached the federal level as well. Us EPA are among the first ten substances subject to risk evaluation under the 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In 2017, the EPA proposed a prohibition on all paint removers that contain methylene chloride and NMP under TSCA Section 6; finalization of the rule appears to have been delayed when Scott Pruitt was appointed as EPA administrator. In May 2018, the EPA confirmed that a final rule on methylene chloride was imminent. Just recently, the EPA sent a draft final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget that eases the terms of the ban it recommended two years ago in a concerted effort to regulate methylene chloride. The new proposal limits the prohibition on methylene chloride to consumer use even though the risk of exposure is arguably greater for those who work with the chemical in paint strippers in an employment capacity.
Amazon’s recent ban comes in the wake of the release of its new chemicals policy in October 2018. The policy prohibits the use of phthalates and other chemicals in certain private label products including baby, household, personal care and beauty products for sale in the United States. The Mind the Store campaign launched by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families collaborated with other environmental advocate groups to encourage Amazon and other retailers to reduce the use of paint strippers containing the chemicals methylene chloride and NMP.
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