A group of public health and environmental advocacy organizations has filed a lawsuit in the Second Circuit challenging the EPA’s partial ban on methylene chloride, a chemical found in paint removal products. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the commercial exemption for the ban is in violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The act gives the EPA the authority to regulate or even ban chemicals it deems to present an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment. The group makes the argument that even though consumer use of methylene chloride products has been banned, by continuing to allow commercial use, the EPA is not eliminating the unreasonable risk presented.

When the EPA released the rule banning consumer uses of methylene chloride in March, the reason given was that short-term exposure to the chemical in the form it is used in paint strippers can lead to a range of serious neurological effects. Several deaths have been attributed to exposure to the chemical since the ban was proposed in January 2017. The group bringing the lawsuit has commented that if consumers are in danger due to short-term exposure, workers using the products in commercial settings are arguably in more danger.

The EPA has not yet publicly commented on the allegations presented by the petitioners, or on the lawsuit generally. Organizations included in the Petitioners group are the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the National Resources Defense Council, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, and Safer Chemicals Healthy Facilities.

CMBG3 Law’s Compliance practice group helps to navigate our clients through litigation matters, but we also protect them from ever having to face litigation in the first place.  Our clients come to us to understand their responsibilities, manage risk, and lessen the impact of complex regulatory schemes on their transactions or day-to-day business. CMBG3 Attorney Suzanne Englot worked as an Environmental Health and Safety Consultant, partnering with manufacturing, property management and insurance clients to ensure regulatory compliance.  This work included in-depth research on clients’ domestic and international work sites, submitting regulatory filings, and preparing clients for internal and external audits and inspections.  Please contact her for more information.