Using New Authority, EPA Proposes First Toxic Chemical Ban in More Than 25 Years

WASHINGTONUsing its strengthened powers under the recently modernized chemical safety law, the Environmental Protection Agency today proposed to ban a chemical’s use as an aerosol spray degreaser and spot remover in dry cleaning, after the agency concluded the substance causes cancer, among other serious health effects.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a solvent used as an industrial and general household degreaser, as well as an ingredient in products such as paint thinners and removers, adhesives, dry cleaning agents, stain removers and carpet cleaners. Health risks from TCE exposures are highest when using airborne products such as aerosol degreasers, spray fixatives or spray cleaners. Today’s proposed ban is limited to the chemical’s uses as an aerosol spray degreaser and spot remover in dry cleaning.

“With this action today on TCE, the EPA is exercising its strengthened authority to protect the public from the dangers of toxic chemicals, which is terrific news for human health,” said Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney for EWG. “We applaud the EPA for its decision to ban this carcinogen from commerce and hope the agency acts with the same sense of urgency on many other chemicals to which millions of Americans are exposed.”

“This proposed ban of TCE is the first time the agency has taken such action under the Toxic Substances Control Act in more than 25 years,” Benesh said. “The EPA has much catching up to do after being hamstrung from taking steps to protect public health under the old chemical law.”

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