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Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA

Risk Evaluation for Methylene Chloride

Methylene chloride (MC) is currently undergoing risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The 2016 amendments to TSCA directed EPA to pick its first ten chemicals for evaluation from the 2014 update of the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments; methylene chloride is on the Work Plan. In October 2019, EPA released the draft risk evaluation for MC.

The draft risk evaluation for MC found that workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders could be adversely affected by MC under certain conditions of use. These initial determinations may change as our evaluation becomes more refined through the public comment and peer review processes.

Learn about EPA's ban on consumer sales of MC in paint and coating removal.

On this page:

Chemical Description of MC

MC, also known as dichloromethane and DCM, is a volatile chemical used as a solvent in a wide range of industrial, commercial and consumer applications. The primary uses for methylene chloride are paint removal, adhesives, pharmaceutical manufacturing, metal cleaning, aerosol solvents, chemical processing and flexible polyurethane foam manufacturing. Information from the 2016 Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) for MC indicates the reported production volume is more than 260 million lbs/year (manufacture and import).

Conditions of Use Included in the Risk Evaluation, Problem Formulation, and Scope

In the draft risk evaluation, EPA evaluated 72 conditions of use associated with the manufacturing (including import), processing, distribution, use, and disposal of MC. Uses include the following:

  • Solvents for cleaning or degreasing
  • Adhesives and sealants
  • Paint and coating removers
  • Fabric and textile surface treatment
  • Lubricant and grease

In June 2017, EPA released the scope document for MC which included the hazards, exposures, conditions of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations EPA expected to consider in its risk evaluation of MC conducted pursuant to TSCA section 6(b). In June 2018, EPA released the problem formulation for MC which refined the scope of the MC risk evaluation by clarifying the chemical conditions of use that EPA expected to evaluate and describing how EPA expected to conduct the evaluation.

After releasing the scope documents for each of the first 10 chemicals undergoing risk evaluation under TSCA, the dockets for each of these first 10 chemicals were open for public comments. Read EPA’s Responses to Public Comments Received on the Scope Documents for the First Ten Chemicals for Risk Evaluation under TSCA. This document addresses cross-cutting public comments received in response to the scope document.

Draft Risk Evaluation

In October 2019, EPA released the draft risk evaluation for MC. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft risk evaluation for 60 days until December 30, 2019, in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0437.

Review of MC Prior to Amended TSCA

Prior to the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, EPA completed a risk assessment for MC, addressing use in paint and coating removal products, and published the following information: