FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There’s been a call Monday to ban a highly toxic chemical in a paint-stripping product that can kill.
The Environmental Protection Agency was moving toward banning the chemical, but it hasn’t yet happened.
The issue could soon be taken up in Congress.
Some big box stores have voluntarily pulled them from the shelves, but it’s not hard to still buy paint stripper containing methylene chloride, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported. The chemical has been implicated in 64 deaths since 1980, according to saferchemicals.org.
(Map by saferchemicals.org)
“I was shocked. I mean, how is it that you can find something that will kill you instantly and, buy it, just off the shelf?” said Brian Wynne. His brother Drew died last year while resurfacing a floor in South Carolina while using the product “Goof Off.”
The highly toxic chemcial, which is in other brands too, also sickened 28 people in the New York area in the last three years.
The Wynne family created an online petition calling on big box stores to stop selling the chemical: Walmart and Lowe’s have pulled it.
An expected EPA ban of methylene chloride has gone nowhere, Gusoff reported.
Sen. Charles Schumer faults EPA leadership.
“Instead of protecting the environment and health has spent a lot of time protecting special interest, my guess is someone who makes methylene chloride some one who has gotten to EPA,” Schumer said.
Schumer is cosponsoring legislation to ban the chemical if the EPA doesn’t act.
The industry opposes a ban, but says it wants the products used correctly, with adequate ventilation.
“The DIY users who have died using the product ignored the fact that you must have adequate ventilation or used them
for bathtub stripping,” said Faye Graul, executive director of Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance, Inc.
Product labels have new warnings, which home improvement contractor Fernando Cordova heeds.
“It could kill you, it’s the end game, you should be careful about what you use and read the instructions,” Cordova said.
Some say labeling isn’t enough.
“Industry has a much greater responsilbilty than labeling a toxic chemical that can actually kill us, they need to take it off the shelves,” said Andrienne Esposito of the Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment.
Drew Wynne’s brother agrees.
“My brother didn’t need to die,” Brian Wynne said.
Until Schumer’s bill is introduced in October, he says consumers should at least be aware there’s a product you can pick up at the hardware store that, if used incorrectly, can kill you.
The EPA had previously said the new labeling is not enough.
CBS2 has reached out to W.M. Barr, the manufacturer of Goof Off and other paint stripping products, but they did not respond.