The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is accepting public comments on a petition requesting that the Commission revise its Statement of Interpretation and Enforcement Policy regarding labeling household products containing methylene chloride (Policy Statement). As discussed in a Federal Register notice published today, the petition from the Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance (HSIA) asks that the CPSC expand the Policy Statement’s labeling requirements to address acute hazards from inhaling vapors from methylene chloride. Methylene chloride is a widely used chemical solvent also known as dichloromethane (DCM).
The HSIA petition [PDF] notes that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOSH) have issued a Hazard Alert about methylene chloride in stripping agents used in bathtub refinishing, identifying at least 14 related worker deaths. The Hazard Alert also recommends ways to reduce or eliminate risk in refinishing bathtubs.
In its Policy Statement, which was issued in 1987 under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), the CPSC advised on labeling household products containing methylene chloride, with a focus on paint strippers. This guidance includes statements of principles and examples of how to warn consumers about the chemical’s potential cancer hazards, but does not address acute hazards.
In its petition, HSIA states that, to prevent future fatalities like those addressed in the OSHA/NIOSH Hazard Alert, “all that is needed is to extend the cautionary labeling so that it also warns of the threat of asphyxiation if DCM-based products are used in an enclosed space.” Consulting with CPSC, the industry group developed warning language and sample labels that have been circulated in the industry. However, HSIA seeks a revision to the Policy Statement because it would receive greater attention and avoid confusion among product manufacturers.
The petition further notes that revising the Policy Statement “is also important to ensure against inconsistent labeling requirements at the state or local level directed at the same risk.” Paint strippers containing DCM are on the draft list of initial Priority Products under California’s Safer Consumer Products program.
CPSC will accept comments on the petition through October 31, 2016.