California Proposes Restrictions on the Use of Paint and Varnish Strippers Containing Methylene Chloride

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is seeking public comment on its proposal to list Paint and Varnish Strippers Containing Methylene Chloride as a Priority Product.  The comment period opened on November 17, 2017.  It will close January 18, 2018.   The proposed regulation is available on the agency’s website.  If the regulation is adopted, manufacturers will be required to conduct an Alternatives Analysis to identify and evaluate safer options.

DTSC proposes to list Paint or Varnish Strippers Containing Methylene Chloride as a Priority Product in regulation because workers and consumers could be exposed to methylene chloride during normal use of paint or varnish strippers.  Inhalation and dermal exposure to methylene chloride is associated with adverse health effects, including cancer of the brain, liver, and biliary tract, and central nervous system depression, intoxication and unconsciousness. Numerous deaths have been reported in workers and consumers who were exposed to methylene chloride during use of paint or varnish strippers.

Once a Priority Product has been adopted in regulation, responsible entities who manufacture the product must notify DTSC. Following the initial notification, a responsible entity may choose to remove the chemical of concern (COC) from the Priority Product; stop selling or distributing the Priority Product in California; or perform an Alternatives Analysis (AA) to determine how best to limit adverse public health and environmental impacts posed by the COC in the product. The Preliminary Alternatives Analysis Report for this Priority Product shall be submitted within 180 days after the effective date of this regulation.

If a responsible entity chooses to follow the AA process (rather than removing the COC from the product or the product from commerce in California), then DTSC may impose regulatory responses, based on alternative selected by that responsible entity, which are designed to prevent or significantly reduce the potential for adverse impacts to public health and the environment.  DTSC reports that it intends to maximize the use of alternatives of least concern and give preference to those that provide the greatest level of inherent protection.  Information about the requirements for AAs can be found on DTSC’s website.