Statement from Environmental Defence’s Muhannad Malas on Walmart’s commitment to end the sale of harmful paint stripping products

Toronto, Ont. – We applaud Walmart for committing to phase out the use of two toxic chemicals in paint strippers from all North American stores by February 2019.

Today’s announcement by Walmart to stop selling toxic paint stripping products is a much-needed step to ensure the safety of consumers from the impacts of two harmful chemicals commonly added to paint strippers: methylene chloride and N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP).

People purchase home renovation products off of the shelves of major retail stores  with the assumption that they can use them safely. Unfortunately, simply inhaling the fumes of common paint strippers during use, even while wearing protective gear, has put many consumers at great risk.

Paint strippers containing methylene chloride have been linked to over 60 deaths in the U.S. Some cases involved people using the product to remove paint from their bathtubs, and in an unfortunate incident that occured last year, while refinishing a bicycle. NMP, another common ingredient in paint strippers, has been shown to pose harm to the liver, the nervous system and to reproductive health.

Walmart’s action to remove paint strippers containing these two chemicals, a step taken earlier this year by other leading home improvement retailers, Lowe’s (and its Rona stores), Sherwin Williams and Home Depot, will prevent further fatalities and adverse health outcomes among consumers and workers who have to use these products.

Last month, Environmental Defence, U.S.-based Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Natural Resources Defense Council sent letters to Walmart Canada and other major retailers urging them to phase out these harmful products.

Walmart is taking leadership to voluntarily ban the use of these two harmful chemicals when the federal government has failed to properly regulate them. We call on Canadian Tire, Home Hardware and other retailers to take similar steps to phase out these dangerous products and adopt safer chemical policies to protect Canadians and the environment.

Weak toxic chemical laws in Canada have left Canadians exposed to harmful chemicals through consumer products that, in other jurisdictions like Europe, face tougher restrictions. The Canadian federal government has committed to reforming our main toxics law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), and should do so as soon as possible. In the meantime, we urge the federal government to ban the use of these two chemicals from paint strippers and other consumer products.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca) Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

– 30 –

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

Sarah Jamal, sjamal@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9521 ext. 251