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More than 50 people have died from common paint strippers, and laborers are suing the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the deadly trend.
The EPA proposed regulations to ban methylene chloride two years ago, but since then at least four more people have died from exposure to the toxic compound. In Labor Council for LatinAmerican Advancement v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, the plaintiffs say that's too many.
The nonprofit groups allege the environmental agency has delayed action long enough. They want the paint stripper banned now.
About 1.3 million consumers and workers are exposed to methylene chloride every year. It is a solvent used in products like paint strippers, and has been linked to cancer, asphyxiation, cognitive impairment, and death.
The EPA proposed banning commercial and consumer use of the solvent in January 2017, but critics say "regulators have offered little more than lip service." According to the lawsuit, the compound is "an imminent hazard until it is removed from use."
Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the plaintiffs say, the EPA is required to take immediate steps to protect against "imminently hazardous chemical substances" that are like to result in serious injury before regulations are finalized.
"Given the risks posed by methylene chloride and the acknowledged need for the proposed ban, there is no basis for EPA's delays to date, much less any further delay," their complaint states.
No Further Delay
Earthjustice attorneys and in-house counsel for the Natural Resources Defense Council filed the lawsuit with the Labor Council for Latin American Advance. It is a nonprofit that advocates for Latino laborers.
The council has 2 million members who work in construction. Many of them risk exposure to the methylene chloride.