Industry Group Calls for Tougher Paint Stripper Labeling

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By Sam Pearson and Pat Rizzuto

Aug. 31 — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is seeking public comment on an industry request to make tougher warning label language for some paint strippers.

The Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance Inc. petitioned the commission Aug. 17 and asked it to require companies making household products with methylene chloride to add a warning to their labels about the risks the chemical may pose following short, high exposures, also called “acute” exposures.

The commission acknowledged the petition in a notice scheduled to be published in the Federal Register Sept. 1 . The commission is accepting public comments on the trade association’s request through Nov. 1.

The commission’s current requirement, issued in a 1987 policy statement under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, is that household products containing methylene chloride carry a warning about risks from chronic exposures—but not acute ones. Methylene chloride is also known as dichloromethane or DCM.

The petition said 14 workers have died following use of DCM-based paint strippers while refinishing bathtubs. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also published a hazard alert after one worker’s death, the petition said.

Consumers are also at risk when they perform this work, the petition said.

“Many stripping products contain substantial amounts of methylene chloride,” the petition said. “Use of these chemicals in bathrooms, which are often small, enclosed spaces with little or no ventilation, can be very dangerous.”

Dozens of Products Listed in National Database

More than 40 auto, home maintenance and other consumer products are listed as containing methylene chloride, according to the National Library of Medicine’s Household Products Database. These products include concentrations of the solvent ranging from 5 percent to 100 percent, the database said.

Manufacturers of these products include the Radiator Specialty Co., Savogran Co., and W. M. Barr & Co.

Faye Graul, the alliance’s executive director, told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 31 it was important that the petition be adopted to ensure all companies use labels that incorporate the latest knowledge.

Graul said commission staff agreed in meetings that the change was necessary but declined to present the matter to the full commission for approval because the panel is already working on other issues.

Alliance in Touch With Manufacturers

Graul said the alliance has been in touch with “at least 95 percent of the community” that manufactures the products but wants to see the changes made official commission policy.

“We just want to make sure that no one uses the product and is harmed,” Graul said.

Separately, the Environmental Protection Agency has said it plans to propose a rule by the end of 2016 to restrict the use of methylene chloride in paint strippers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pat Rizzuto in Washington at prizzuto@bna.comand Sam Pearson in Washington at spearson@bna.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

For More Information

The Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance petition is available at http://src.bna.com/icO.The Federal Register notice is available at: http://src.bna.com/icA.

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