Today the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel broke the news that Menards has become the latest retailer to phase out the sale of paint strippers containing the dangerous chemicals methylene chloride and NMP. The company has over 300 stores across 14 states.

Menards’ new commitment comes on the heels of a new letter sent yesterday to the company from 17 Midwestern environmental, labor, and public health organizations, including John Muir Chapter Sierra Club, Ecology Center, Clean Water Action Minnesota and Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois. This also follows a letter and follow-up communications we sent the company last summer with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

In a statement to the paper, a Menards spokesperson said:

“All of our paint removal products meet stringent US Government Standards. We have not been contacted by any US Government Agency about any changes to the US Government Standards. However, to be on the safe side, we are no longer purchasing paint removal products that contain any amount of methylene chloride or NMP.” (emphasis added)
Step in the right direction, more action needed

We are cautiously optimistic that Menards is finally beginning to address these dangerous products. It’s been seven months since we first wrote to the company calling for action and citing the risks to its customers’ health—and their lives.

The company, however, failed to clarify its timeline for pulling these products from store shelves, unlike other major retailers such as Lowe’s.

Menards should move forward and pull these dangerous products from store shelves immediately. The company should also follow the example set by Lowe’s and issue a “stop sale” so that consumers can’t purchase these harmful products at the register.

Until Menards’ policy is fully implemented, this will be a “buyer beware” situation. Menards’ customers should exercise caution when purchasing paint strippers to ensure they don’t contain these dangerous chemicals.

Growing market movement away from dangerous paint strippers, while EPA drags its feet

Menards is now the twelfth major retailer to restrict toxic paint strippers in response to our campaign. Since last May, we and our coalition partners won commitments from eleven other retailers including Lowe’s, Sherwin-Williams, The Home Depot, Walmart, and Amazon. In total, retailers are pulling these toxic products from more than 30,000 stores across North America and the world!

Menards’ comments also underscore the need for EPA to follow through on its proposed ban on methylene chloride and NMP paint strippers, both for consumers and workers. We are very concerned that EPA is proposing to exclude workers from a ban on these products, and is also failing to follow through on its proposed ban of NMP. This is unconscionable, especially when safer alternatives are readily available.

The marketplace is speaking and the writing is on the wall for these dangerous chemicals. The EPA should slam the door once and for all on their use in paint removal products to ensure all consumers and workers are protected, and that no sales of these hazardous products slip through the cracks.

If EPA fails to ban these products for both consumers and workers, it’s only a matter of time before another family loses a loved one.