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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to address the unreasonable risk of injury to human health presented by methylene chloride under its conditions of use. The proposal impacts anyone who manufactures, processes, distributes in commerce, uses, or disposes of methylene chloride or products containing methylene chloride. This could include entities such as:

  • Crude Petroleum Extraction;
  • Testing Laboratories;
  • Solid Waste Combustors and Incinerators;
  • Air and Gas Compressor Manufacturing; and
  • Gasket, Packing, and Sealing Device Manufacturing, just to name a few.

The risk of injury was documented in EPA's June 2020 Risk Evaluation for Methylene Chloride and November 2022 revised risk determination for methylene chloride prepared under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Comments on this proposed rule must be received by July 3, 2023. In the proposed rule, EPA seeks to:

  • Prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of methylene chloride for consumer use;
  • Ban most industrial and commercial uses of methylene chloride;
  • Require a workplace chemical protection program, which would include a requirement to meet inhalation exposure concentration limits and exposure monitoring for certain continued conditions of use of methylene chloride;
  • Require recordkeeping and downstream notification requirements for several conditions of use of methylene chloride; and
  • Supply certain time-limited exemptions from requirements for uses of methylene chloride that would otherwise disrupt national security and infrastructure.

Methylene chloride risks and uses

Methylene chloride is acutely lethal. It’s a neurotoxicant and presents cancer and non-cancer risks after chronic exposure. It’s widely used in applications like:

  • Adhesives and sealants,
  • Automotive products, and
  • Paint and coating removers.

Proposed rule costs

This proposed rule is estimated to be $13.2 million annualized over 20 years at a 3 percent discount rate and $14.5 million annualized over 20 years at a 7 percent discount rate. Additionally, there are unknown economic impacts of possible firm closures in the furniture refinishing industry. Hypothetical average lost profits range from $14,000 (one firm closing) to $67 million under the extreme and unlikely assumption of a complete sector shutdown.

Key to remember: After a June 2020 Risk Evaluation, EPA wants to address the unreasonable risk of injury to human health presented by methylene chloride under its conditions of use.