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EPA Releases Three Final Chemical Risk Assessments / Agency identifies health concern from chemical used in paint strippers

Release Date: 08/28/2014
Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn, milbourn.cathy@epa.gov, 202-564-7849

WASHINGTON-- Today, EPA released three final risk assessments for specific uses of three chemicals found in common household products. The risk assessment for Dichloromethane (DCM), which is widely used in paint stripping products, indicates health risks to both workers and consumers who use these products, and to bystanders in workplaces and residences where DCM is used. EPA estimates that more than 230,000 workers nationwide are directly exposed to DCM from DCM-containing paint strippers.

“While EPA continues to support much needed reform of this country’s chemicals management legislation, we are also using our current authorities as effectively as we can, which includes conducting risk assessments on chemicals to determine if they are safe for the public,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Our review indicates that the use of DCM in paint strippers pose risks to human health, so EPA is beginning an effort to determine options for addressing the concern.”

Risk assessments for the other two chemicals did not show concerns. The other two looked at ecological risks of antimony trioxide (ATO) used as a synergist in halogenated flame retardants and 1,3,4,6,7,8-Hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8,-hexamethylcyclopenta-[]-2-benzopyran (HHCB) used as a fragrance ingredient in commercial and consumer products.

These final assessments and the recently released TCE risk assessment, which identified concerns for certain uses, were developed as part of the agency’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan, which identified chemicals for review and assessment of potential risks to people’s health and the environment. The risk assessments are based on the best available information and were finalized after careful consideration of comments from the public and experts during an independent, scientific peer review of the assessments.

For DCM, EPA is considering a range of possible voluntary and regulatory actions to address concerns and anticipates conducting a workshop in late fall to engage key stakeholders and the public on potential alternatives and risk reduction approaches.

In the meantime, EPA recommends that consumers check the label to determine if the product contains Dichloromethane or Methylene Chloride. If so, EPA recommends taking precautions that can reduce exposures, such as using the product outside or in an extremely well-ventilated area and wearing protective equipment.

EPA is also currently evaluating risks of another chemical in paint strippers called N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP). EPA released a draft risk assessment for NMP which identified risks associated with use of NMP-containing paint strippers. EPA does not expect the final risk assessment to significantly change this conclusion, and therefore recommends that those using NMP-containing paint strippers also take measures to minimize exposure.

Additional information on these final risk assessments and other TSCA Work Plan chemicals can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/riskassess.html