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EWG Calls For Broader Reform on Chemical Safety

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For Immediate Release: 
Friday, January 4, 2013

Environmental Working Group called today’s release of draft risk assessments of five chemicals found in paint strippers, fire retardants, degreasers, fragrances and other consumer products a positive step by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but EWG emphasized that the agency’s action “also underscores the need for true chemical policy reform.”

In its announcement, the EPA said three of the five chemicals – methylene chloride and n-methylpyrrolidone in paint strippers and trichloroethylene (TCE) in degreasers and spray-on coatings – are potential threats to human health.

“Last year, two California men died after using paint strippers containing methylene chloride,” said Renee Sharp, senior scientist at EWG. “One of them was a 24-year-old man who was removing paint from a baptismal font in a church using a widely available product purchased by church staff at a nearby home improvement store. This tragedy is a potent reminder that consumers need more protection from toxic chemicals.”

“The risk assessments released today are an important step forward for consumer health and we commend the EPA for its efforts,” Sharp added. “At the same time, they underscore the need for true chemical policy reform. Children, workers, and consumers will never be truly protected until chemicals are tested for safety before they are put on the market.”

“Federal scientists found significant potential acute and chronic health risks to consumers, workers and bystanders from methylene chloride in paint strippers,” Sharp continued. “The risks include both neurotoxic effects and cancer. It is clear that this chemical should not be in consumer products.”