June 19 (UPI) -- Home Depot has become the latest -- and largest -- home improvement store to stop selling paint-removal products with toxic chemicals that have been blamed for killing dozens of people, the company said Tuesday.
The company said it will phase out paint-stripping products that include methylene chloride and N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone, also known as NMP, by the end of the year.
Home Depot's announcement comes less than a month after its competitor, Lowe's, also announced plans to phase out the products.
"The Home Depot's action is the latest nail in the coffin for methylene chloride and NMP paint strippers," said Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. "We applaud the Home Depot for taking this important step that will go a long way in safeguarding its customers from these unnecessary toxic chemicals and promote safer alternatives."
Methylene chloride is a solvent that turns to carbon monoxide, and when inhaled can overwhelm someone using the product, even while wearing a mask. The chemical can bring on asphyxiation and heart attacks, and studies have tied it to some types of cancer.
Investigations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program tied more than a dozen deaths in the previous 12 years to the use of stripping products in bathtub refinishing.
Earlier this year, environmental groups launched a campaign to pressure hardware stores to stop selling the products after the Environmental Protection Agency delayed plans to ban paint strippers containing methylene chloride. The agency under the Obama administration had proposed the new rule as an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act, but the Trump administration's EPA said it wanted more time to weigh the issue.
"We're glad that the private sector is finally starting to take action on these dangerous chemicals, but the EPA must stop dragging their feet and ban these toxic hazards once and for all so that no other family has to suffer," said Sujatha Bergen, a policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council.