May 9, 2024

EPA Bans Most Uses of Methylene Chloride

EPA has finalized a rule that bans most uses of methylene chloride. Since 1980, the chemical has caused the deaths of at least 88 people who were exposed to methylene chloride in products used for bathtub refinishing and paint stripping. Methylene chloride is also used in aerosol degreasing, as an adhesive and sealant, and to make other chemicals such as climate-friendly refrigerants.

NIOSH describes methylene chloride as “a colorless liquid that can harm the eyes, skin, liver, and heart.” The effects of exposure include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, loss of consciousness, and death. The International Agency for Research on Cancer categorizes methylene chloride as probably carcinogenic to humans.

Combined with EPA’s 2019 prohibition on the use of methylene chloride for consumer paint and coating removal, the new rule bans manufacturing, processing, and distribution of the chemical for all consumer uses by July 2025 and most industrial and commercial uses within two years. Exceptions in the rule will allow the use of methylene chloride to continue for the production of chemicals that are important to efforts to reduce global warming, the production of battery separators for electric vehicles, and a few other specific uses that EPA describes as “highly industrialized and important to national security and the economy,” including uses required by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Aviation Administration. These uses will continue with strict workplace controls, according to EPA.

The rule was published in the Federal Register May 8 and goes into effect July 8, 2024. For more information, see EPA’s press release and its risk management page for methylene chloride.