By Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG
My dad and brother are do-it-yourself guys, as are my husband and father-in-law. They take on projects around the house because they enjoy the satisfaction of seeing major home improvement projects through to completion. It’s gratifying to work at something and then use and live among the fruits of our labor.
When I heard about the story of Drew Wynne, who at only 31 years old lost his life when he inhaled fumes from a toxic paint remover, I was shocked. Drew was refinishing a floor when he inhaled the toxic chemical methylene chloride. And Drew isn’t alone—more than 60 families throughout the United States have lost loved ones because of a dangerous chemical found in paint strippers.
Methylene chloride exposure can kill within minutes, and long-term exposure to this chemical has been linked to liver toxicity, liver cancer and lung cancer. While Lowe’s has taken the product off its shelves, this chemical is still found in paint strippers currently on the shelves of Home Depot. Even though, in just the last year, at least four families have lost loved ones to these toxic products.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed banning methylene chloride and another chemical called NMP in paint strippers. But in December, the new EPA administration reversed course at the urging of the chemical industry.
Purchasing a DIY product shouldn’t put your life at risk. Especially when there are safer alternatives that stores can—and do—sell.
In May, more than 7,000 supporters from our national network joined with hundreds of thousands of other consumers who signed a petition asking Lowe’s to remove deadly paint strippers from store shelves. Lowe’s responded, announcing at the end of the month that it would stop selling paint strippers with these dangerous chemicals by the end of 2018.
We’re working to convince Home Depot to also remove these deadly products from its shelves.
With Father’s Day just around the corner, many of us will be heading to Home Depot for gifts for our dads and other special people in our lives. If you do, don’t buy products that contain the deadly chemical methylene chloride.
Then, tell Home Depot to drop these deadly products by adding your name today.