Atlanta-based Home Depot agrees to ban toxics from paint removers

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Home Depot has agreed to pleas of an environmentalist group to stop selling paint removal products containing purportedly toxic substances responsible for consumer deaths.

The $100 billion-a-year, Atlanta-based company, will phase out the use of the chemicals — methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone — in paint removal products by the end of this year, according to the company.

"Over the past few years, The Home Depot has led the industry in creating chemical standards for multiple product categories," said a statement from the company.

Banning the two chemicals is a way “to build upon our strategy to maintain continual improvement in health and environmental safety for products,” the Home Depot statement said.

The announcement came after aggressive lobbying by a group known as Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, which includes more than 450 organizations and businesses.

At least 60 deaths are blamed on the chemicals commercial use, according to the organization.

Home Depot's rival home retailer, Lowe's, was the first U.S. retailer to agree to ban those chemicals, according to Mike Schade, a representative of Safer Chemicals.

Sherwin-Williams also recently announced it would stop using the chemicals.

“We applaud The Home Depot for taking this important step that will go a long way in safeguarding its customers from these unnecessary toxic chemicals and promote safer alternatives,” he said.

The chemicals have been found to pose unacceptable health risks to the public, including cancer, harm to the nervous system and to childhood development, and death. In 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a ban on the paint removers that contain the chemicals.

However, the agency has taken no action since Scott Pruitt became EPA administrator, according to the environmental group.