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EPA Bans Use of Most Methylene Chloride

The EPA ruled to ban most uses of Methylene Chloride, following a recent article that published in the Q2 issue of Surface and Panel discussing the proposal.

Photo by Hans Reniers / Unsplash

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In the Q2 issue of Surface & Panel [found below this update], we discussed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pending risk management rule for methylene chloride. Since then, the EPA has released its final ruling.

As we explained in the issue, the proposed risk management rule for methylene chloride would require the phase down of manufacturing, processing, and distribution of methylene chloride (a halogenated organic solvent widely used in paint strippers, cleaners, adhesives, and sealants in the United States) for all consumer uses and most industrial and commercial uses. 

The EPA’s final risk management rule released on April 29, 2024, confirmed those expectations. In fact, according to the EPA’s Pre-Publication regarding the determination, “methylene chloride presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health, without consideration of costs or other non-risk factors, including an unreasonable risk to potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations identified...”

Accordingly, the EPA issued the rule under TSCA section 6(a), which affects those that “manufacture (defined under TSCA to include importing), process, distribute in commerce, use, or dispose of methylene chloride or products containing methylene chloride.” Specifically, it:

  • prohibits the manufacture, processing, and distribution of methylene chloride for all consumer use;
  • prohibits most industrial and commercial use of methylene chloride and delay prohibition for two conditions of use;
  • requires a workplace chemical protection program (WCPP), including inhalation exposure concentration limits and related workplace exposure monitoring and exposure controls, for 13 conditions of use of methylene chloride (including manufacture; processing; several industrial and commercial uses such as laboratory use; and disposal;
  • identifies a de minimis threshold for products containing methylene chloride for the prohibitions and restrictions on methylene chloride;
  • requires recordkeeping and downstream notification requirements for manufacturing, processing, and distribution in commerce of methylene chloride.

EPA notes that all TSCA conditions of use of methylene chloride (other than the use of methylene chloride in consumer paint and coating removers, which was subject to separate action under TSCA section 6 on March 27, 2019) are subject to this final rule.

Furthermore, the rule stated although the EPA is prohibiting many conditions of use of the chemical where it cannot be used without continuing to present unreasonable risk as described in Unit IV., it “is not finalizing a complete ban on methylene chloride.”

However, according to the EPA, most prohibited uses will be phased out within two years after finalization of the rule. For uses of methylene chloride continuing under the Workplace Chemical Protection Program, most workplaces will have 18 months after the finalization of the risk management rule to comply with the program and would be required to periodically monitor their workplace to ensure that workers are not being exposed to levels of methylene chloride that would lead to an unreasonable risk.

The compliance timeframes can be found at https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/risk-management-methylene-chloride#finalriskevaluation.

The EPA’s final Federal Register publication on the MC rule is expected in the coming weeks.

For technical information regarding the ruling, contact Ingrid Feustel, Existing Chemicals Risk Management Division (7405M), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. 20460-0001; (202) 564-3199; MethyleneChlorideTSCA@epa.gov.

 

This article ran in the Q2 issue of Surface & Panel Magazine. It went to press before the final EPA ruling was issued. It gives a little more background to this issue.

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