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EPA must finish the job on toxic solvents

Almost a year ago, using its authority under the newly reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the EPA proposed banning certain uses of three solvent chemicals—methylene chloride (MC or DCM) and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) for paint and coating removal and trichloroethylene (TCE) for spot removal in dry cleaning and industrial vapor degreasing. Nearly a year later, the agency still hasn’t finalized these protections.

More than 60,000 people submitted comments in support of finalizing these public health protections through Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and our allies in the environmental health community.

This week, concerned by reports that EPA may delay or weaken final action on the rules, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families was joined by sixty-three public health, consumer, and environmental groups, in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt calling on the Trump Administration to finish the job of protecting our communities and families from these dangerous chemicals.

If these rules are delayed, more than two million workers and consumers will be needlessly exposed to serious, well-documented health risks. We urge you to keep the rulemaking process moving forward and finalize the three rules as proposed as soon as possible.

With overwhelming bipartisan votes, Congress overhauled TSCA last year in direct response to EPA’s abysmal record in addressing unsafe chemicals under the law. The Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act removes the roadblocks to effective public health protections that had stymied action under the old law. Thanks to the 2016 law’s TSCA amendments, EPA now has the tools it needs for forceful action to eliminate unacceptable chemical risks.

It is long past time for the EPA to ban these uses, which have been shown hazardous to worker and consumer health time and time again. Waiting to finalize the bans puts the health of millions of consumers and workers at risk. In fact, just a few months ago, 21-year-old Kevin Hartley died after using a methylene chloride-based paint stripper at a job site in Tennessee. What is the EPA waiting for?