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Chemical Regulation

Methylene chloride risk assessment lands in US court

by Britt E. Erickson
July 25, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 29


A worker scrapes paint off wood.
Credit: Shutterstock
Advocacy groups are suing the EPA over its methylene chloride assessment for failing to protect workers who remove paint.

A coalition of environmental and worker advocacy groups is challenging the US Environmental Protection Agency’s risk assessment of methylene chloride, a solvent widely used in commercial paint removers and other products. In a lawsuit filed July 16, the groups ask the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to review the evaluation. The groups argue that the EPA underestimated risks to workers and ignored risks to the general population from exposure to methylene chloride in air, water, and soil. “When the EPA moves forward to regulate the chemical, it must consider these risks,” Selena Kyle, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the petitioners, says in a statement. Methylene chloride, which has acute effects on the central nervous system and is a likely human carcinogen, is one of the first 10 chemicals that the EPA is evaluating under 2016 revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act. The methylene chloride assessment, finalized last month, is the first one the EPA has completed under the amended law.


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