The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a ban on all consumer, industrial, and commercial uses of methylene chloride to protect public health. Last year, risk management was done for methylene chloride to protect people from asbestos exposure, but this year the EPA came out with a complete ban. Acute methylene chloride exposure will lead to numerous health effects, certain cancers, and even death.

Methylene chloride is a volatile, colourless liquid with a chloroform-like odour. It is used in various industrial processes, including paint stripping, pharmaceutical manufacturing, metal cleaning, etc. Commercially, methylene chloride is used as an aerosol degreaser, sealant, adhesive, and paint remover. The most common means of exposure are inhalation and skin exposure. Continuous exposure will lead to long-lasting health impacts such as neurotoxicity, liver effects, and dermal issues.

Due to its potential risk, the EPA proposed this ban using six years of toxics release inventory exposure data. This prohibition will rule out the use of methylene chloride in public communities and thus reduce the potential risks. For industrial manufacturing, federal uses, and space exploration uses, the EPA is not proposing to prohibit but to strictly reduce the exposure limit to protect workers. Since methylene chloride is a climate-friendly refrigerant, it plays a vital role in combating climate change. So, the EPA has decided not to completely prohibit methylene chloride in these sectors. However, employers should comply with the stringent risk management rule and periodically monitor the workplace to ensure a limit on exposure to methylene chloride.

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