methylene chloride ban

April 30, 2024

EPA alert


EPA’s final action, also known as a risk management rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is the second risk management rule to be finalized using the process created by the 2016 TSCA amendments.

Methylene chloride is used by consumers for aerosol degreasing and paint and coating brush cleaners, in commercial applications such as adhesives and sealants, and in industrial settings for making other chemicals. For example, methylene chloride is used in the production of more climate-friendly refrigerant chemicals.

Since 1980, at least 88 people have died from acute exposure to methylene chloride, largely workers engaged in bathtub refinishing or other paint stripping, even, in some cases, while fully trained and equipped with personal protective equipment. While EPA banned one consumer use of methylene chloride in 2019, use of the chemical has remained widespread and continues to pose [a] significant and sometimes fatal danger to workers. EPA’s final risk management rule requires companies to rapidly phase down manufacturing, processing, and distribution of methylene chloride for all consumer uses and most industrial and commercial uses, including its use in home renovations.

Consumer use [of methylene chloride] will be phased out within a year, and most industrial and commercial uses will be prohibited within two years.

For a handful of highly industrialized uses, EPA has created a Workplace Chemical Protection Program. This workplace chemical protection program has strict exposure limits, monitoring requirements, and worker training and notification requirements that will protect workers from cancer and other adverse health effects caused by methylene chloride exposure.

Uses that will continue under the Workplace Chemical Protection Program are highly industrialized and important to national security and the economy. These are uses for which EPA received data and other information that shows workplace safety measures to fully address the unreasonable risk could be achieved. These uses include:

  1. Use in the production of other chemicals, including refrigerant chemicals that are important in efforts to phase down climate-damaging hydrofluorocarbons under the bipartisan American Innovation and Manufacturing Act.
  2. Production of battery separators for electric vehicles.
  3. Use as a processing aid in a closed system.
  4. Use as a laboratory chemical.
  5. Use in plastic and rubber manufacturing, including polycarbonate production.
  6. Use in solvent welding.

Additionally, specific uses of methylene chloride required by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Aviation Administration will also continue with strict workplace controls because sufficient reductions in exposure are possible in these highly sophisticated environments, minimizing risks to workers.

Compliance Under the Risk Management Rule

For uses of methylene chloride continuing under the Workplace Chemical Protection Program, most workplaces will have 18 months after the finalization of the risk management rule to comply with the program and would be required to periodically monitor their workplace to ensure that workers are not being exposed to levels of methylene chloride that would lead to an unreasonable risk. In consideration of public comments on the proposal, EPA extended the compliance timeframe to give workplaces ample time to put worker protections in place.

EPA also revised several other aspects from the proposal including ensuring the Workplace Chemical Protection Program applies to the same uses whether they are federal or commercial uses, establishing a de minimis concentration, and provisions to strengthen and clarify aspects of the Workplace Chemical Protection Program such as monitoring requirements.

EPA will also host a public webinar to explain what is in the final rule and how it will be implemented. The agency will announce the date and time in the coming weeks.

For More Information





Posted by Diane Samuels at 11:29 am