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Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

The world's largest home improvement retailer, The Home Depot, announced Tuesday that it will phase out the use of the toxic chemicals methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) in its paint removal products by the end of this year.

The company, which operates more than 2,200 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, is the third major retailer this month to commit to pulling the products from store shelves. Methylene chloride and NMP have been found to pose unacceptable health risks to the public, including cancer, harm to the nervous system and to childhood development, and death.

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Removing paint with a paint stripper. Sym Roe / Creative Commons

On Thursday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signaled it would move forward with a proposed ban of the highly toxic paint stripping chemical methylene chloride, which was initially proposed under President Obama.

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Paint strippers containing methylene chloride line shelves in home-improvement stores across the country. Jamie Smith Hopkins / Center for Public Integrity

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

It might be surprising to learn that simply removing paint could be fatal, but the key ingredient in many paint-stripping products has felled dozens of people engaged in this run-of-the-mill task. In the waning days of the Obama administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to largely ban paint strippers containing the chemical methylene chloride so they would no longer sit on store shelves, widely available for anyone to buy.

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