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The Biden-Harris Administration has Implemented a Ban on Most Applications of Methylene Chloride, Safeguarding Workers and Communities from Deadly Exposure.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has enacted a ban on most uses of methylene chloride, a hazardous substance linked to various cancers including those of the liver, lungs, breasts, brain, blood, and central nervous system, in addition to causing neurotoxicity and liver damage, and potentially death. This measure, which aims to save lives, supports President Biden's Cancer Moonshot initiative, a comprehensive government effort to eradicate cancer as we know it.

The EPA's recent decision, termed a risk management rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), aims to safeguard public health from risks while permitting essential uses to proceed under a comprehensive new worker protection program. This marks the second risk management rule finalized through the procedures established by the amendments to the TSCA in 2016.

“Exposure to methylene chloride has devastated families across this country for too long, including some who saw loved ones go to work and never come home,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA’s final action brings an end to unsafe methylene chloride practices and implements the strongest worker protections possible for the few remaining industrial uses, ensuring no one in this country is put in harm’s way by this dangerous chemical.”

“The USW applauds EPA’s final rule banning certain uses of methylene chloride and lowering allowable workplace exposure levels. More than 100,000 workers die from occupational disease each year, including those sickened by harmful chemical exposures. Our union fought for the updated Toxic Substances Control Act so that we could ensure that worker exposures to harmful substances like methylene chloride are appropriately assessed and regulated at harmful levels. Now, thanks to the current administration, workers are safer and better protected,” said David McCall, International President, United Steelworkers.

Methylene chloride finds application in consumer products like aerosol degreasers and brush cleaners for paints and coatings, as well as in commercial products including adhesives and sealants. In industrial environments, it is used in the synthesis of other chemicals. Notably, methylene chloride is utilized in the production of more environmentally friendly refrigerant chemicals.

For ongoing applications of methylene chloride under the Workplace Chemical Protection Program, most workplaces will have 18 months from the rule's finalization to meet compliance requirements, which include periodic monitoring to ensure worker exposure does not pose an unreasonable risk. Following public feedback, the EPA extended this compliance period to allow sufficient time for the implementation of worker safeguards. Additionally, the EPA made several revisions to the initial proposal, such as applying the Workplace Chemical Protection Program consistently across federal and commercial uses, introducing a minimal threshold concentration, and enhancing provisions related to monitoring within the program to ensure clarity and effectiveness.

Source: EPA



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