June 19, 2018

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE

Statement from Environmental Defence’s Muhannad Malas on Home Depot’s announcement to phase out toxic paint strippers from their stores

Toronto, Ont. – We applaud and welcome Home Depot’s decision to stop selling toxic paint strippers by the end of 2018.

Today’s announcement by the home improvement retail giant represents a big step toward protecting consumers and families from toxic products that have led to sixty or more deaths in the U.S. alone since the 1980s. Most recently, these products took the life of a 31-year old person who was using a paint stripper to refinish his bicycle in his Pennsylvania home.

Common paint strippers that can be bought off the shelf of a home improvement store often contain methylene chloride (also known as dichloromethane), a chemical that may damage liver, kidney or cognitive function and may even trigger suffocation or fatal heart attacks. Some products may also contain N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), a chemical that has been linked to miscarriages.

Last month, Lowe’s (and its subsidiary retailer Rona) was the first to commit to getting rid of these products after U.S.-based groups and tens of thousands of people urged them to eliminate these products. Last week, paint retailer Sherwin-Williams announced it will remove products containing methylene chloride.

We call on other major retailers selling these products including Canadian Tire, Home Hardware and Walmart to follow suit and stop selling these deadly products by the end of the year.

The role of these market leaders to take voluntary measures that are needed to protect people from toxic chemicals becomes extremely critical in the absence of regulatory action by governments.

Canada has long recognized methylene chloride as a toxic chemical that poses serious risks to health. Yet, the federal government has failed to regulate it or even require visible and informative warning labels on the health or fatal effects of the chemical. With NMP, the situation is even more concerning as a 2017 draft government assessment concluded it is not toxic under law despite the serious hazards and risks it poses.

Canadians are expecting the federal government to reform our two decade old toxics law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), after a parliamentary committee review last year concluded that the Act is outdated and falls short of protecting people from toxics in consumer products. A decision by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on the path forward for strengthening this crucial law is due before the end of June.

-30-

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Sarah Jamal, Environmental Defence, sjamal@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9521 ext. 251 (work), 905-921-7786 (cell)