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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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