Grieving parents & health advocates urge Lowe’s to pull deadly paint strippers from store shelves

Media Contacts
Dev Gowda

Toxic methylene chloride linked to more than 50 deaths and cancer

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

At 31 years old, entrepreneur Drew Wynne’s life was cut short when he inhaled a toxic paint stripper containing methylene chloride, which he bought at Lowe’s to refinish a floor. The Wynne family was featured in a CBS This Morning story today.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund joins Drew’s family, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, and the Natural Resources Defense Council in calling on Lowe’s to stop selling paint strippers made with methylene chloride and the chemical NMP.

“We have an alternative already on store shelves, right next to a deadly product,” said Dev Gowda, Toxic-Free Director for U.S. PIRG. “It’s absurd that we’re even talking about selling something that can kill you, when there are safe alternatives already on the shelves.”

Long-term exposure to methylene chloride has been linked to liver toxicity as well as liver and lung cancer. But even short-term exposure to methylene chloride can be deadly. NMP exposure puts women of childbearing age and pregnant women at risk of harm to their fetuses. It has been linked to miscarriage, fetal death, decreased birth weight, and other fetal developmental effects.

“No family should lose a loved one because of deadly chemicals,” said Cindy Wynne, mother of Drew Wynne. “To this day, you can walk into Lowe’s and other home improvement retailers and buy the same product that killed Drew—plus numerous others containing the same chemical. I hope Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock will do the right thing and ban this dangerous product.”

“DIY shouldn’t spell danger,” said Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. “It’s been more than a year since we first asked Lowe’s to take action on these deadly products. There’s no reason Lowe’s should still be selling these products today. Methylene chloride-based paint strippers have already been banned in Europe, but can be found at home improvement stores across America. How many more people have to die before retailers like Lowe’s take action?”

In 2017, the EPA proposed banning the use of methylene chloride and NMP in paint strippers. According to reports gathered from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other sources, methylene chloride has been linked to more than 50 deaths since 1980. However, in December 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Deputy Assistant Administrator Nancy Beck, a former chemical industry staffer, indefinitely delayed action on these chemicals under pressure from the chemical lobby.

Methylene chloride has been banned in paint strippers in the EU since 2012, and in February 2018 the European chemicals agency proposed adding NMP to the REACH “authorization” list, which could lead to a ban in the EU.