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EPA announces ban on toxic paint-stripping chemical with history of death and illness: 'This is big'

"The EPA's actions today are telling us that they heard our stories and are protecting workers."

"The EPA's actions today are telling us that they heard our stories and are protecting workers."

Photo Credit: iStock

The EPA just took a major step forward in protecting Americans from toxic chemicals, according to The Washington Post.

In April, the agency announced a ban on most uses of methylene chloride, a hazardous solvent used in paint stripping that's been linked to dozens of accidental deaths since 1980.

This is big news for anyone who cares about their health and the health of our planet.

Methylene chloride has been used for decades in products like bathtub refinishers and furniture strippers. But exposure to this toxic chemical can cause serious harm, from dizziness and headaches in the short term to several types of cancer in the long term.

By banning most uses of methylene chloride, the EPA is helping to keep this dangerous substance out of our homes, our workplaces, and our bodies. The new rule will phase out consumer use within a year and prohibit most commercial and industrial uses within two years, the Post reported.

"This is big," Joel Tickner, a professor of environmental health at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, told the Post. "They're leveraging the law to the extent that they can, and they're using every resource at their disposal."

This move doesn't just protect people — it protects the environment, too. The EPA is allowing continued use of methylene chloride in producing climate-friendly refrigerants and electric vehicle batteries.

So, while getting this toxin out of our everyday lives, the agency is ensuring the substance can still play a role in technologies that will help cool down our overheating planet.

"I wish these protections had been in place earlier, because for many families, they're coming too late," said Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the EPA's chemicals office, per the Post. The agency is turning the page on chemical safety in America and not a moment too soon.

Wendy Hartley, whose son died from methylene chloride exposure in 2017, believes this ban will prevent other families from experiencing the unimaginable loss she has suffered.

"The EPA's actions today are telling us that they heard our stories and are protecting workers," she said on a call with reporters, per the Post.

While the EPA has been criticized for not doing enough in areas like drinking water pollutants, Hartley's point suggests that the EPA did listen and take action here. By restricting methylene chloride and cracking down on other hazardous chemicals, the agency can assert its important role and show it's taking steps to safeguard the health of people and the planet.

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