Over the past year, our Mind the Store campaign and coalition partners at NRDC won commitments from 13 top home improvement, big box, and auto-parts retailers to ban the sale of paint removal products containing the hazardous chemicals methylene chloride and NMP at over 30,000 stores across North America and the world.
Over the past few months, we’ve been following up, visiting stores and websites to see how retailers have followed through on their policy commitments. You can read here about our previous research visiting Lowe’s, The Home Depot, AutoZone, Sherwin-Williams, and Kelly-Moore Paints stores.
More recently, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families staff and our campaign partners have visited Walmart stores as well as Walmart.com and Amazon.com to see how both retailers have followed through on their commitments. Walmart pledged to phase out the sale of toxic paint strippers by February and Amazon made the same commitment effective March 1. As two of the largest retailers in the U.S. and the world, it’s critical for Walmart and Amazon to properly implement their policies to ensure these harmful products don’t end up in more homes or workplaces.
Our new investigation revealed that both retailers were still selling dozens of paint removal products containing methylene chloride and NMP, even after they pledged to stop doing so. To their credit, Amazon staff promptly removed all products we identified less than 48 hours after we brought them to their attention. Unfortunately, Walmart is still selling dozens of paint strippers containing methylene chloride and NMP, although they have removed some.
We appreciate and applaud the commitments both retailers have made and believe it is critical for both to ensure their policies are meaningfully implemented and enforced so that unsuspecting customers don’t buy hazardous products. It is also important for both to ensure their suppliers don’t move to regrettable substitutes, such as these products containing GreenScreen Benchmark-1 chemicals of high concern.
Walmart still selling hazardous paint removal products
On March 11, we sent Walmart staff a list of 47 paint strippers for sale on Walmart.com, all via third parties, that definitely or likely contained methylene chloride or NMP. That list included:
- 21 product pages for paint strippers that definitely contained methylene chloride, including one sold at a discount and another labeled as currently out of stock;
- 9 product pages for paint strippers that may have contained methylene chloride, including 2 on clearance & sold at a discount;
- 6 product pages for paint strippers that definitely contained NMP; and
- 11 product pages for paint strippers that may have contained NMP.
We were pleased that the company removed all the products from their website by the next day, except for one product: Klean-Strip Klean Kutter Refinisher.
After further research, to our surprise, we identified 42 additional product pages with paint or coating strippers being sold on Walmart.com that definitely or likely contain methylene chloride or NMP. We sent those to Walmart on March 14:
- 10 product pages for paint strippers that definitely contain methylene chloride, including 9 sold by third parties on Walmart.com and 1 sold by Walmart labeled as out of stock**;
- 20 product pages for paint strippers that may contain methylene chloride, all sold by third parties on Walmart.com, with 2 sold at a reduced price and 1 labeled as out of stock;
- 8 product pages for paint strippers definitely containing NMP, including 7 sold by third parties on Walmart.com, one of which is sold at a reduced price, and 1 sold by Walmart;
- 2 product pages for coating strippers containing NMP, all sold by third parties on Walmart.com, one of which is on clearance and sold at a reduced price; and
- 2 product pages for paint strippers that may contain NMP, sold by third parties on Walmart.com.
We later identified one additional product, which we shared with the company on March 15.
Unfortunately, none of these additional product pages have been removed from the website as of this posting.
Our coalition partners also visited 18 Walmart stores in 13 states. Two stores visited (one in Chicago, IL and one in Portland, OR) were still selling a paint stripper with methylene chloride or NMP. We greatly appreciate the work of our partners at the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) and other organizations for their assistance in visiting Walmart stores in many of these states.
Walmart should act quickly to investigate these paint removal products and remove all containing methylene chloride and NMP, both from online (especially from third-party sellers) and in-store stock. The company should also investigate all other paint removal products that are currently sold (and any new products it adds going forward) to ensure the products are in compliance with its own policy.
Paint strippers found on Amazon.com; company promptly removes them
We also found many paint strippers containing methylene chloride and NMP still being sold on Amazon.com even after its restriction went into place. We identified 59 product pages on Amazon.com with paint or coating stripper products that either definitely or likely contained methylene chloride or NMP. This count included different sizes or different sellers of the same item. To its credit, the company removed all of the products’ pages within 48 hours after we sent them to Amazon staff on March 18. We had identified:
- 16 product pages for paint strippers that definitely contained methylene chloride, including 2 sold directly by Amazon;
- 4 product pages for pure or high purity methylene chloride products where the web page mentioned paint stripping, including one product listed as currently unavailable;
- 20 product pages for paint strippers that likely contained methylene chloride, including 3 sold by Amazon (one of those three was temporarily out of stock);
- 5 product pages for coating strippers that likely contained methylene chloride;
- 3 product pages for paint strippers that definitely contained NMP; one of these was a product sold by Amazon that was temporarily out of stock;
- 1 product page for a coating stripper that definitely contained NMP;
- 6 product pages for paint strippers that may have contained NMP; and
- 4 product pages for coating strippers that may have contained NMP.
Since we found these products on Amazon.com after its March ban went into place, it is important for the company to follow up to ensure that its policy is meaningfully implemented and enforced, especially for third-party sellers, so that no other paint removal products containing methylene chloride or NMP are sold through Amazon.com now or in the future.
Retailers must follow through on commitments to stop selling dangerous products
These and other retailers must follow through on the commitments they made to ensure their policies are being properly implemented. All retailers who sell to consumers will have to stop selling methylene chloride paint strippers 240 days after the recently finalized EPA ban is published in the Federal Register.
This new in-store research underscores why we need federal action and enforcement by the EPA to ensure that no toxic paint strippers remain on store shelves for consumers or workers.
In the meantime, consumers and workers should remain vigilant. Until these and other retailers’ policies are fully implemented and EPA bans these products for both consumers AND workers, Americans should exercise caution when purchasing paint strippers to ensure they don’t contain these dangerous chemicals. Safe and effective alternatives are available; learn more in our updated factsheet.
** Information about the availability of any product listed is likely to change after the posting of this blog.