US EPA gathering information on methylene chloride in furniture refinishing

The United States Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public workshop on the use of the paint remover methylene chloride in furniture refinishing to gather information that will inform a future regulation on the use. The 12 September workshop, to be held in Boston in collaboration with the Small Business Administration (SBA), aims to “facilitate an exchange of information on existing use practices and furniture refinishers’ experience, in general, with paint removal products and methods.” On 19 January, the EPA issued a proposed rule under section 6 of TSCA that would restrict the use of methylene chloride and n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) for all consumer and most types of commercial paint removal. However, it specifically excluded furniture refinishing. The proposal said the EPA “is not proposing to regulate methylene chloride in commercial furniture refinishing at this time, but intends to propose such a regulation at a later date, after it obtains more information on this use”. That decision was influenced by input from the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, an independent branch of the agency that represents the interests of small businesses in regulatory issues. The office is helping to organise outreach to small businesses and aims “to minimise the impact of these regulations on businesses in that sector,” a spokeswoman told Chemical Watch. The meeting notice anticipates that industry professionals, government officials, NGOs, furniture refinishing experts and academic experts will discuss current work practices, potential alternatives and economic impacts. The EPA will be accepting comments on furniture refinishing until 12 November. The January proposed rule on methylene chloride indicates that the agency is considering requiring respiratory protection equipment as well as the alternative of an outright ban on its use in furniture refinishing. Methylene chloride is being reviewed separately as one of the first ten priority substances subject to risk evaluation under the new TSCA. Furniture refinishing is included in the scope of the evaluation, according to a June “scoping document” identifying the uses of methylene chloride that will be assessed. Methylene chloride is one of three substances on the list of ten that have already been assessed under the old TSCA and are the subject of proposed section 6 rules. In a 2014 assessment, the EPA concluded that the solvent can cause a range of adverse health effects or death in workers and consumers, including harm to the central nervous system, liver and kidney toxicity, and cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (Iarc) has assigned methylene chloride a Group 2A, “probably carcinogenic to humans”, categorisation. Its use in paint strippers is restricted in the EU under REACH. Further information is available at:

Chemical Watch, 24 August 2017 ; http://chemicalwatch.com