EPA Identifies Paint-Stripping Chemical Risks

March 31, 2015

March 31, 2015—A chemical used in paint strippers could pose risks to pregnant women and women of childbearing age working in body shops, according to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The risks identified for women of childbearing age who use N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP), a chemical commonly used to remove paint and other coatings, for less than four hours per day could be reduced by use of chemical-resistant gloves. The EPA noted that the equipment would not protect against those working with the chemical for more than four hours per day or frequently over a series of days.

“By completing this assessment, we have taken an important step in protecting pregnant women and women of childbearing age who are using NMP to remove paint,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “It is a reminder that as we evaluate these risks, it is very clear that our nation’s chemical laws are in much need of reform. Completing this assessment will now trigger a process to address these unacceptable risks.”

The EPA said it also identified risks associated with methylene chloride, a common alternative to NMP, and is considering a range of voluntary and regulatory efforts to reduce risks.

The EPA recommends finding safer paint and coating removing chemicals or taking precautions that can reduce exposures, such as using the product outside and wearing proper gloves and respiratory protection.