Dozens of uses of methylene chloride pose an unreasonable risk to workers and consumers, the US Environmental Protection Agency says in a draft assessment released on 29 October. Methylene chloride is a likely human carcinogen and has acute effects on the central nervous system, including loss of consciousness and death. It is widely used as a solvent, as a propellant, and in the manufacturing of other chemicals, according to the EPA. Numerous products contain methylene chloride, including sealants, adhesives, automotive lubricants and degreasers, and paint and coating removers. Earlier this year, the EPA banned the use of methylene chloride in paint removers sold to consumers, but the agency stopped short of prohibiting its use in commercial paint removers. The latest assessment finds unreasonable risks for most industrial and commercial uses of methylene chloride even with the use of respirators. It is unclear what steps the EPA will take to mitigate such risks. The agency is seeking public comments on the draft assessment until 30 December. An advisory committee will peer review the document at a 3-4 meeting.
Chemical & Engineering News, 2 November 2019