On March 15, 2019, the EPA issued a final rule that will ban the retail sale of methylene chloride containing products for consumer uses.  Methylene chloride is a solvent that is currently, but not for much longer, commonly found in consumer paint and furniture strippers.  It is sold by hardware stores and home improvement retailers.

The EPA’s action is based on the adverse effects to consumers using methylene chloride.  It has been documented that short-term exposure to methylene chloride vapors can cause dizziness, loss of consciousness and death resulting from nervous system depression.

The new rule defines a retailer as any person or entity that sells paint and coating removal products to consumers, including sales through the internet.  For a distributor not to be considered a retailer, he/she must distribute methylene chloride-containing paint and coating removal products solely to commercial or industrial end users or businesses.  The new rule does not apply to commercial use of this chemical.

The rule also requires manufacturers, processors and distributors of methylene chloride, to provide downstream users with notice of this ban.  Material safety data sheets provided with the methylene chloride product must indicate that this chemical cannot be distributed in commerce for consumer use.

Given that the rule will not apply to the industrial use (i.e., workplace use) of methylene chloride, it is imperative that employers using this chemical take precautions to protect their employees from the toxic effects of this chemical.  To obtain more information regarding protections that should be in place to protect employees from workplace exposures to methylene chloride visit OSHA.gov.