Lowe’s will phase out deadly paint strippers by end of 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ansje Miller, 510-379-8449
Zack Kaldveer, 510-938-2664
May 29, 2018

CEH commends Lowe’s Home Improvement for phasing out deadly paint strippers by end of 2018

In a huge victory for human health and safety, Lowe’s—one of the nation’s largest home improvement retailers—announced today it would globally phase out products containing methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), by the end of the year. These highly toxic chemicals used in paint strippers have caused over 60 reported deaths since 1980, and have been linked to hormone disruption, various cancers, nervous system damage, miscarriage, and fetal and childhood development problems. According to the EPA, more than 60,000 U.S. workers and 2 million consumers are exposed to methylene chloride and NMP annually. Despite the fact that safer alternatives are available, these dangerous chemicals have remained on the market.

In response to the Lowe’s announcement, Ansje Miller, CEH’s Director of Policy and Partnerships said: “Lowe’s announcement today demonstrates that the marketplace can and should move away from these dangerous chemicals. Thank you, Lowe’s, for listening to your customers and putting health first. Now EPA Administrator Pruitt needs to finalize the rule to ban both methylene chloride and NMP in paint strippers to protect all Americans.”

The announcement comes after a year of escalating pressure on the company by advocacy groups, and days before Lowe’s annual shareholder meeting. CEH with other national and local partners of the Mind the Store Campaign, victims’ family members, and consumers were preparing to speak out at the Lowe’s shareholder meeting this Friday, June 1, 2018 in North Carolina. After learning of this planned press conference, which follows actions at Lowe’s stores and a petition with over 200,000 signatures asking Lowe’s to stop selling these products, Lowe’s announced today that it would take a leadership position on safer products and remove the dangerous chemicals from the shelves.

Methylene chloride and NMP are so harmful that in 2017 the EPA proposed banning them as part of the newly-revised Toxic Substances Control Act. CEH supported that ban as a prudent step to protect Americans from these dangerous chemicals. Under Scott Pruitt’s leadership, however, the EPA prioritized the chemical industry over human health and lagged on banning methylene chloride. The EPA just recently stated that it would finalize the rule on methylene chloride, but has provided little detail on how it will proceed. It has remained silent altogether on NMP. Four of the reported deaths from toxic paint strippers occurred while the EPA has stalled on that 2017 proposal. At least one of the victims bought the product that killed him at Lowe’s.

CEH thanks our partners in the Mind the Store Campaign, the family members of victims who bravely advocated for this ban, the hundreds of thousands of consumers who lent their names and voices, and Lowe’s for taking the lead among retailers to side with consumer health. Together, we will continue to push businesses and state and federal governments to eliminate these and all deadly chemicals.