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Learning and Developmental Disabilities Groups Call on Lowe’s to Ban Toxic Chemicals Harmful to Children’s Brain Development

Maureen Swanson, Healthy Children Project Director, Learning Disabilities Association of America, 724.813.9684

Pressure Mounting on Lowe’s to Eliminate Toxic Paint Strippers Linked to Dozens of
Consumer and Worker Deaths

Pittsburgh, PA (April 12, 2018)

Four of the nation’s largest national learning and developmental disabilities organizations, along with more than 20 of their state chapters, have asked home improvement retailer Lowe’s to end the sale of paint-stripping products containing two dangerous and neurotoxic chemicals within the next six months.

The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), The Arc of the United States, Autism Society of America and the American Network of Community Options and Resources sent a letter to Lowe’s CEO and Chairman Robert Niblock urging the company to take swift action to protect people from methylene chloride and N-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP), which are commonly found in paint strippers sold in Lowe’s stores throughout the country. LDA’s Healthy Children Project, which is spearheading these efforts by neurodevelopmental disabilities groups, also launched an online petition calling on Lowe’s to ban the chemicals from store shelves.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), roughly 32,000 workers and 1.3 million consumers are exposed to methylene chloride each year. Children whose mothers are exposed to methylene chloride or NMP during pregnancy are at higher risk for problems with brain development, learning and behavior. Studies link men’s exposure to the toxic solvents to impaired sperm quality and higher risk of babies with low birth weight, which in turn can contribute to learning and developmental disabilities.

“We need Lowe’s to act now to protect children and consumers from these products. There is no reason for any retailer to sell products containing chemicals that put babies’ brains – or people’s lives – at risk,” said Beth McGaw, LDA president.

“While many causes of intellectual disability are unknown, there is strong and mounting evidence of the harm caused by some chemicals used in household products,” added Annie Acosta, The Arc’s Director of Fiscal and Family Support Policy. “We must do everything we can to limit those causes or contributing factors that are preventable.”

Methylene chloride has also been linked to more than 50 deaths since 1980, including Drew Wynne, a 31-year-old entrepreneur from Charleston, South Carolina who died from exposure to methylene chloride in a paint stripper purchased at Lowe’s in the fall of 2017. Drew’s story was recently featured on the CBS Evening News.

In early 2017, the EPA proposed to ban the use of methylene chloride and NMP in paint removal products. But late last year, the EPA put the proposed action on an indefinite hold. Meanwhile, Europe banned methylene chloride from consumer paint strippers several years ago.

“North Carolina families are asking Lowe’s to step up and get these toxic chemicals off their shelves,” said JoAnna Barnes, president, Learning Disabilities Association of North Carolina. “Expectant parents preparing a nursery shouldn’t have to worry that chemicals in the paint strippers they’re using might irreparably harm their baby’s brain.”

The letter comes on the heels of a national campaign launched by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other coalition partners calling on Lowe’s to eliminate the sale of toxic paint strippers. In less than two weeks over 80,000 consumers nationwide have signed petitions to Lowe’s on Change.org and other websites urging the company to take action on methylene chloride and NMP.


About the Learning Disabilities Association of America:

The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) is a national non-profit organization working to create opportunities for success for all individuals affected by learning disabilities, and to reduce the incidence of learning disabilities in future generations. LDA and its state and local affiliates provide service, information and advocacy for individuals with learning disabilities, parents, educators, and health professionals. ldaamerica.org @LDAAmerica @HealthyChildrenProject