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Responding to Public Pressure, Lowe’s to End Sale of Deadly Paint Removal Products

Environmental Health Strategy Center
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Responding to Public Pressure, Lowe’s to End Sale of Deadly Paint Removal Products

Public Health Leaders Call on Other Retailers to Follow Lowe’s Lead

May 29, 2018, Portland, ME --  Following months of public pressure, major home improvement retailer Lowe’s announced this morning that it would end sales by the end of this year of paint stripping products containing two toxic chemicals known as methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP).

Michael Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center and senior advisor to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and its Mind the Store Campaign, issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement:

“Lowe’s has demonstrated outstanding corporate responsibility by acting to protect the health and safety of its customers in the face of deadly inaction by our federal government.

“We now urge other retailers like The Home Depot and Walmart to follow Lowe’s leadership in a race to the top. When government fails to act in the face of danger, it’s up to civil society and the private sector to lead. Protecting the life and health of customers is not just a hallmark of corporate leadership by Lowe’s; it’s a moral imperative that makes good business sense for all companies and the entire country.

“We further call on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to end his foot-dragging on behalf of the toxic chemical industry and finalize the proposed ban on these deadly chemicals.

"We applaud the Mind the Store campaign led by the national health advocacy organization, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, for working tirelessly for the last five years to persuade major U.S. retailers to end the sale of products containing chemicals of high concern."

The Environmental Health Strategy Center, along with the Learning Disabilities Association of Maine, joined parents, workers, and concerned customers across the country in conducting rallies at Lowe’s stores earlier this month to ask the chain to stop sale of these chemicals.

Methylene chloride has been linked to more than 60 deaths nationwide since 1980, including four men who have died since the beginning of 2017. One of these men purchased the product at a Lowe’s store in South Carolina and his family was recently featured on the CBS Evening News. The chemical is also linked to lung cancer and liver, kidney, and reproductive toxicity. The other toxic chemical called N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) impacts fetal development and can cause miscarriage and stillbirth.

In January 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed banning paint strippers containing these chemicals, citing the products’ unreasonable risks to consumers. However, under heavy lobbying from the chemical industry, the agency has yet to finalize such a ban. According to the EPA, more than 60,000 U.S. workers and 2 million consumers are exposed to these chemicals each year.

The ​Environmental​ Health Strategy Center works for a world where all people are healthy and thriving in a fair and healthy economy. We protect public health by fighting for​ ​safe food and drinking water, toxic-free products, and good green manufacturing jobs.