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Calls for tougher federal safety regulations in banning chemicals

There are various federal agencies charged with protecting the well-being of consumers and workers. Several years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency was purportedly preparing to ban the sale of a potentially lethal chemical. Unfortunately, the EPA scaled back the reach of its ban, and critics claim that workers’ lives are at risk without improved federal safety regulations. Missouri workers who are exposed to certain paint removers could be harmed without further regulatory actions.

According to an investigation conducted in 2015 by the Center for Public Integrity, approximately 56 people have died since 1980 after exposure to methylene chloride, an ingredient in some paint removers. The majority of those deaths occurred on the job. A few years ago, the EPA was reportedly working on restricting almost all sales of the chemical, including from suppliers to workplaces. It is unclear why the ban is limited only to retailers at this time.

The agency is proud of its efforts to enact the ban, though it will not be effective for several more months. In the meantime, it is feared that workers will remain at risk until this chemical is banned from work sites. A spokesperson suggested that the agency may recommend training and certification rather than banning it. However, one woman, whose son died on the job after exposure, said that he had been trained in the proper use of the lethal ingredient.

The chemical can cause death from asphyxiation or heart attack. The danger is increased when used in small spaces, such as when it is used to refinish bathtubs. The dangers posed by this chemical have been a concern since 1976. Unfortunately, without improved federal safety regulations, workers may continue to face serious danger when using products with this ingredient. Missouri workers who have been harmed on the job may benefit from seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney who can guide them in filing a claim for maximum benefits from the workers’ compensation program.