AutoZone, PPG Halt Sale of Paint Strippers With Toxic Chemicals

(Bloomberg) -- Three more retailers have agreed to follow the lead of Walmart Inc. and home-improvement chains Lowe’s Cos. and Home Depot Inc. in halting sales of paint strippers containing two toxic chemicals.

AutoZone Inc., Kelly-Moore Paint Co. and PPG Industries Inc. are eliminating paint removers that contain the ingredients methylene chloride and NMP this year. Each one confirmed to Bloomberg News that sales of products containing the substances are being discontinued.

The ingredients are among the first 10 chemicals under review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under an updated law on toxic substances. Hazards listed by the EPA for the substances include reproductive risks for NMP, or N-Methylpyrrolidone, and nervous system damage and liver or lung cancer for methylene chloride. In May, the agency said it would “shortly” finalize a rule to ban methylene chloride, also known as DCM, in paint strippers.

In the meantime, several of the largest U.S. retailers took action. Sherwin-Williams Co., Home Depot and Walmart are among those that have said they’re eliminating paint strippers containing the chemicals.

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of environmental and health groups, has urged retailers to develop chemical policies and eliminate toxins in products. The group has contacted about 20 retailers and a couple of manufacturers asking them to eliminate the chemicals, said Mike Schade, who is heading a campaign called Mind the Store.

Pittsburgh-based PPG, which manufactures paints and operates a network of about 900 stores, has removed the two chemicals from almost all of the paint removers it makes and sells, spokesman Mark Silvey said in an email. It’s now working to eliminate them from the “very small number” of strippers sold outside the U.S. and Canada that still contain them.

Mind the Store has also reached out to Amazon.com Inc. about the paint strippers, but hasn’t received a response, Schade said. The e-commerce giant recently posted a new chemicals policy on its website, though it doesn’t mention paint strippers.

Related: Amazon Policy Restricts Some Chemicals, Urges Safer Ones

The Amazon policy establishes a list of restricted chemicals it wants to avoid in its private-label personal-care and household products sold in the U.S. Amazon says it will encourage other manufacturers to find safer alternatives for substances of concern as well. The company plans to make information about product ingredients and certifications easier to view on its website.

Amazon declined to comment.

In May, Lowe’s was the first national retailer to announce the move to eliminate the two chemicals from paint strippers. Several others quickly followed.

“It shows that if one retailer will step out, it will inspire others to follow suit and join them,” Schade said.

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