Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Charles Schumer, D-New York, sent a letter Dec. 18 to Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler demanding EPA immediately finalize its proposed ban of methylene chloride, a hazardous chemical found primarily in paint strippers that has for years posed risks to unsuspecting users.

Since the EPA in May acknowledged the dangers of methylene chloride in a plan to ban the product from store shelves and online, the agency has been slow-walking the process and endangering people who may have no clue just how dangerous this chemical really is — until they’ve been exposed, sickened or worse. While some stores have phased out or have committed to voluntarily remove the methylene chloride product from shelves, it is still sold by a number of American retailers including Walmart, Menards and Ace Hardware.

“In May of this year, I welcomed EPA’s announcement that it intended to finalize a ban on methylene chloride. But seven months have come and gone and a ban has yet to be finalized on a chemical so dangerous that it is killing unsuspecting Americans who pick it up at the hardware store,” said Carper. “Congress passed TSCA reform in 2016 with overwhelming bipartisan and stakeholder support. Despite that clear and definitive mandate, the Trump administration cannot even manage to finalize the ban of a chemical so harmful to human health that stores have voluntarily taken it off their shelves. There is absolutely no excuse for this delay.”

In 2014, the EPA addressed the paint stripping uses in its risk assessment. In January 2017, the EPA proposed a ban on the chemical under the Toxic Substances and Control Act, which would prohibit the consumer and commercial paint stripping uses for methylene chloride. In May 2018, EPA announced its plans to finalize the ban. However, seven months later, no such ban has been finalized and the chemical is still available at a number of hardware stores. To date, the EPA has not taken sufficient action against this dangerous and deadly chemical and has only reported that it is working to finalize the methylene chloride rulemaking “shortly.”

Methylene chloride is a chemical often found in paint strippers/thinners, polyurethane foam manufacturing and in cleaning and degreasing work activities. The chemical is known to reduce blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity, thus affecting the brain and nervous system’s function which can result in asphyxiation and/or heart attack. People exposed to methylene chloride can present symptoms including dizziness, headache and/or nausea. A full list of brands that contain methylene chloride can be found at bit.ly/2A2EqUo.

A copy of the letter can be found at bit.ly/2BuSLc1.