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Methylene Chloride Draft TSCA Risk Evaluation Released by EPA

Posted on November 05, 2019 by Lauren Scott

On October 29, 2019, EPA unveiled a draft risk evaluation for the chemical methylene chloride (MC). This comes after a prohibition on consumer sales was enacted in March of this year to go into effect at the end of November.

The risk evaluation examines more than 70 uses of MC, including commercial paint and coating removal, consumer adhesives, sealants, degreasers, cleaners, and automobile products, to determine any hazards associated with the use of the chemical under these conditions. Under the latest TSCA amendment, MC is the fifth of the first ten chemicals prioritized to undergo risk evaluation.

View the draft risk evaluation here.

However, this is only a draft risk evaluation. A final risk evaluation is not expected for several months. No action will be taken until the final risk evaluation is released.

What’s a Risk Evaluation?

According to the Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (LCSA) amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA must evaluate the safety of existing chemicals, prioritize existing chemicals for evaluation, and create risk-based chemical assessments.

The final risk evaluation is designed to thoroughly evaluate the available science before taking action to manage the risk associated with the use of a chemical.

If EPA’s final risk evaluation finds there are adverse health risks associated with MC under any of the specific conditions of use, the agency can propose Actions to address those risks within the timeframe required by TSCA. EPA’s actions could include proposed regulations to prohibit or limit the manufacture, processing, distribution in the marketplace, use, or disposal of the chemical, as applicable.

EPA & Public Scrutiny on Methylene Chloride

EPA has faced public pressure over the last few years to finalize a 2017 proposed rulemaking that would have banned commercial sales in addition to consumer sales of methylene chloride.

On March 27, 2019, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a Final Rule to prohibit the manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution of methylene chloride in all paint removers only for consumer use. The Final Rule goes into effect on November 29, 2019.

The Final Rule has since faced more scrutiny from the public. In October, public health advocates filed a lawsuit, arguing the ban must include a prohibition on commercial sales because workers are most at risk to MC exposure.

Next Steps

There will be a virtual meeting on November 12 and an in-person meeting December 3–4 to discuss the draft risk evaluation. More information can be found in the Federal Register.

EPA is also soliciting comments here on the draft risk evaluation until December 30, 2019.

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