The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a ban on most uses of methylene chloride, a chemical that has been linked to severe health risks and even death. The proposal would allow for critical military, some manufacturing, and processing uses that meet strict workplace safety requirements.
The proposed ban would apply to consumer, most industrial, and commercial uses of methylene chloride, and workplace safety requirements would be implemented to minimize exposure to workers where some uses are allowed.
Methylene chloride is used in a variety of ways, including consumer uses such as aerosol degreasers and brush cleaners for paints and coatings, commercial applications such as adhesives and sealants, and in industrial settings for making other chemicals.
EPA's proposed rule follows the agency's determination of unreasonable risks associated with workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and those in close proximity to a consumer use. EPA identified risks for adverse human health effects, including neurotoxicity, liver effects, and cancer from inhalation and dermal exposures to methylene chloride.
The proposed risk management rule would rapidly phase down manufacturing, processing, and distribution of methylene chloride for all consumer uses and most industrial and commercial uses, most of which would be fully implemented in 15 months.
EPA's proposed rule would protect communities from methylene chloride exposure and covers ongoing uses of methylene chloride at a majority of facilities, effectively eliminating potential risks to neighboring communities.
EPA is proposing a workplace chemical protection program with strict exposure limits to better protect workers in industrial manufacturing, industrial processing, and federal uses. Some uses of methylene chloride required by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Aviation Administration could continue with strict workplace controls because sufficient reductions in exposure are possible in these highly sophisticated environments, minimizing risks to workers. EPA's proposed rule supports continued efforts to reduce emissions of climate-friendly refrigerants and other chemicals.