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90% of paint strippers could be banned by Brussels proposals

Published: 19 November 2008
A possible European Commission led ban on the use of dichloromethane would affect 90% of all paint strippers currently on the market, according to a Scottish MEP.
90% of paint strippers could be banned by Brussels proposals
The commission has proposed restrictions on the sale and use of paint strippers containing dichloromethane, also known as DCM.

Its proposals would create a blanket ban on the use of DCM products by the public and the general use by professionals operating outside industrial premises - although the UK will be able to decide the extent of this itself.

While the EC also wants to see an increase in protection for workers during industrial use of such paint strippers through compulsory use of protective equipment like gloves and masks as well as improved strip tanks and adequate ventilation.

The ban, which could be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council by the end of the year, follows fears the vapour from the chemical, which is toxic to the central nervous system, has caused a number of accidents and even fatalities across the continent.

However, Tory MEP Struan Stevenson, said there was no proof linking the chemicals to illness or deaths and the decision would cost the UK's DIY industry millions of pounds.

He said: "It is totally unacceptable. A change in law would cost the UK between £31m and £220m-a-year not to mention the increased health and safety risks from alternative measures that have not been thoroughly tested.

Mr Stevenson also stated other methods of paint removal, such as blowtorches and hot-air guns, account for more than 200 accidents in the UK annually.

EC vice-president Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: "Our proposal will achieve a high level of protection of human health and will provide an important measure of added safety for consumers and workers".

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