Press Release

AFL-CIO President on EPA’s Phasing Out of Deadly Methylene Chloride in Workplaces

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler released the following statement in response to historic EPA action from the Biden–Harris administration to phase out and ban the deadly methylene chloride, an extremely dangerous chemical used in paint stripping, metal cleaning and degreasing, under the Toxic Substances Control Act after Trump-era inaction:

On the heels of Workers Memorial Day, this historic action to phase out and ban this deadly chemical is a critical milestone in our fight to protect working people on the job. The AFL-CIO applauds the rule announced today, which continues the Biden–Harris administration’s and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) deep commitment to the safety and health of all workers. 

With the widespread availability of safer alternatives, we know this commonsense change will save lives. Methylene chloride poses a serious risk to workers—we have known for years that, if inhaled, it can cause immediate death. Despite this, the Trump administration and its corporate backers left workers behind when it prohibited consumer usage but refused to require employers to use safer chemicals and methods. With this strong foundation, we will continue to ensure workers are still protected to the fullest during phase-out periods and establish strong standards that protect all workers from chemical exposures we face on the job. 

For an overview of the unacceptable levels of all worker deaths and injuries, please see the AFL-CIO’s 2024 Death on the Job report

This year’s report reveals that in 2022: 

  • An estimated 125,000 workers died in the United States, including 5,486 from traumatic injury and approximately 120,000 from occupational diseases. That is 344 workers each day.  
  • Occupational diseases caused by chemical exposures are responsible for an estimated 50,000 deaths and 190,000 illnesses each year.
  • The traumatic job fatality rate increased again to 3.7 per 100,000 workers.
  • Workers of color die on the job at a higher rate: Black and Latino worker job fatality rates are disproportionate compared with all other workers and are continuing to increase. 
  • Black workers’ job fatality rate was the highest it has been in nearly 15 years—4.2 per 100,000 workers.
  • Latino workers’ job fatality rate increased again to 4.6 per 100,000 workers—meaning they continued to face the greatest risk of dying on the job than all workers, at 24% higher than the national average; the rate marked a 24% increase over the past decade.
  • Employers reported nearly 3.5 million work-related injuries and illnesses, an increase from the previous year.

Contact: Riley Lopez, 202-637-5018