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Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA

Risk Management for Methylene Chloride

EPA issued a final rule to prohibit the manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution of methylene chloride in all paint removers for consumer use. EPA has taken this action because of the acute fatalities that have resulted from exposure to the chemical. Paint removal products containing methylene chloride will not be able to be sold at any retail or distribution establishments that have consumer sales, including e-commerce sales. Those prohibitions start 180 days after the effective date of the final rule, which provides time for establishments selling this chemical to consumers to come into compliance with EPA's ban. EPA is also requiring manufacturers, processors, and distributors to notify retailers and others in their supply chains of the prohibitions and to keep records.

Additionally, EPA is soliciting public input for a future rulemaking that could establish a training, certification and limited access program for methylene chloride for commercial uses. EPA is asking for input on the key elements required for such a program. Upon publication in the Federal Register of the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), EPA will accept public comments for 60 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0844 on www.regulations.gov.

Learn more about risk management for methylene chloride:


What is Methylene Chloride?

Methylene chloride, which is also called dichloromethane or DCM, is a volatile chemical used in a variety of industries, such as paint and coating removal, plastic processing, metal cleaning and degreasing, adhesive manufacture, and as a heat transfer fluid. Methylene chloride is domestically manufactured and imported into the United States; it is estimated that up to 260 million pounds per year are used. EPA estimates that approximately ten percent of total methylene chloride usage is for paint and coating removal products.

Why is EPA concerned?

EPA found risks to consumers using methylene chloride to be unreasonable due to acute human lethality. Acute (short-term) exposures to methylene chloride fumes can rapidly cause dizziness, loss of consciousness, and death due to nervous system depression. EPA is particularly concerned about the fatalities to consumers from using methylene chloride in enclosed spaces.

Are there alternatives to methylene chloride available?

Yes, a variety of alternative paint and coating removal products are available. These include other chemical products as well as mechanical methods. As with use of any product, people should read and carefully follow all label directions.  

How do people dispose of unwanted methylene chloride?

Please consult your state and local government solid waste agencies to obtain proper disposal instructions for leftover or unused paint and coating removal products. 

Should consumers continue to use existing stocks of methylene chloride paint and coating removal products?

EPA identified unreasonable health risks from methylene chloride for consumer paint and coating removal, and the final rule prohibits manufacture, processing, and distribution for this use. Those prohibitions start 180 days after the effective date of the final rule, which provides time for establishments selling this chemical to consumers to come into compliance with EPA's ban. To the extent that consumers want to avoid the unreasonable health risks, consumers should not use methylene chloride for paint and coating removal.

Past risk management actions