A chemical commonly found in paint strippers may pose “unreasonable risk” to some workers.
N-methylpyrrolidone, also known as NMP, is currently under review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate hazards. The EPA released a draft risk evaluation on Nov. 7, which stated that workers and consumers could be “adversely affected” by NMP under certain conditions of use. The EPA extended the comment period on the draft risk evaluation until Jan. 21.
NMP is among the first ten chemicals scheduled to be evaluated under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. So far, six of the ten chemicals have been reviewed, with final evaluations due in June 2020.
EPA Findings on NMP
In the draft risk evaluation, the EPA stated that NMP does not present risks to the environment, bystanders, or occupational non-users.
However, it does discuss how the chemical can harm consumers and workers under certain conditions. The agency had also previously published statistics on fertility and reproductive issues caused by exposure to NMP.
According to the EPA, the workers most at risk of NMP overexposure are those involved in the following operations:
- Paint and coating removal
- Machine manufacturing
- Adhesive removal
- Cleaning and degreasing in electronic equipment
- Use of automotive care products
The draft risk evaluation was then peer-reviewed by the EPA’s own Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC). The peer-review suggested that the assessment of NMP hazards and effects was severely downplayed.
The reports of consumers who have been affected by the chemical also suggest that NMP should be taken seriously.
Methylene Chloride Ban in Consumer Products
Here’s another chemical to know: Methylene chloride.
NMP can be used as an alternative to this substance, as it provides the same function in products such as paint strippers and removers. However, methylene chloride was banned from consumer products by the EPA last March — although it was not banned from occupational use.
According to the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign, at least 64 people died from acute exposure to methylene chloride since 1980. Most recently, a 48-year-old man died from asphyxiation in 2016 after he was exposed to fumes from a product he used to seal shower tiles in a bathroom.
The EPA estimates that each year, 30,300 workers and 732,000 consumers are exposed to NMP in paint and coating removers.
Prioritizing Worker Health & Safety
A good employer balances the line between requirements and judgments.
Even though certain practices and chemicals are not banned or limited by OSHA or the EPA, that does not excuse employers from making good decisions for the health and safety of their employees.
Employers are required to make medical surveillance available, at no cost, to their employees. At Worksite Medical, we make that process easy and convenience with mobile medical testing.
From audiometric & respirator fit testing, to blood work and OSHA, DOT, or NFPA physicals, we’ve got you covered. And, we’ll keep accurate, easy-to-access records, so you’ll be prepared when OSHA inspectors arrive.
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