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LOWELL, Mass. – Consumers will soon have a safer alternative to dangerous paint strippers that have claimed dozens of lives around the country, thanks to a new formula developed by Toxics Use Reduction Institute
researchers at UMass Lowell
The new product will be available on store shelves through a licensing agreement between the university and SRD NEWGEN
, announced today by UMass Lowell and the company. It will be marketed under the Super Remover brand and will be available on store shelves within a few months.
The invention came about because of the dangers posed by conventional paint strippers containing methylene chloride, which has been implicated in the deaths of dozens of people who are believed to have been overcome by toxic fumes while using products containing the chemical, also known as dichloromethane and DCM.
An analysis conducted by the Center for Public Integrity identified at least 56 accidental exposure deaths linked to methylene chloride in the United States. The vapors from paint strippers that include methylene chloride can depress a person’s central nervous system, slow breathing and cause loss of consciousness and death, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
. In addition to causing immediate health problems if not used properly, exposure to methylene chloride has been linked to a higher risk of cancer and neurological and liver problems.
Earlier this year, the EPA announced plans to finalize a ban on the use of methylene chloride in paint-stripping products. Some retailers – including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sherwin Williams and Walmart – have already committed to take such products off store shelves.
TURI, propelled by increased health and safety concerns for consumers using methylene chloride-based paint strippers, began researching safer alternatives to the toxic solvent in 2015. The researchers’ goal was to not only find a safer solution, but one that would appeal to professionals and consumers because it is as effective in removing paint as those containing the dangerous chemical.
Over the course of the research by the TURI team – which included UMass Lowell faculty and students – three existing safer chemicals were identified that, when combined in a certain ratio, remove most paint coatings within 20 minutes, comparable to the time it takes for products that contain methylene chloride.
“One of the biggest roadblocks that consumers and companies have to using safer alternatives is performance. If the safer solution doesn’t work as well as the product that contains toxic chemicals, then it’s more difficult for consumers to make the switch. We’re thrilled that our safer paint-stripping solution will be brought to market by SRD NEWGEN so that consumers now have a safer choice that performs as well,” said TURI Research Manager Gregory Morose, Sc.D., the scientist who oversaw the invention of the new product.
While trying to find a viable solution, the TURI researchers filtered out any chemicals with significant known toxicity issues and then worked with the safer chemicals to develop a solution that performed as well as methylene chloride. In addition, TURI contracted with a toxicology firm and two other universities to provide independent environmental, health and safety evaluations. More on the project, including a video demonstration of how the product works, is available here
“Since stripping paint requires highly active solvents, all paint-stripper products have some level of hazard associated with them,” said Morose. “TURI is confident, however, that due to our evaluation and the independent testing, our formulation is much safer than paint strippers containing methylene chloride.”
U.S. and international patents are pending on the formulation, which is both effective and does not substitute methylene chloride with other highly toxic chemicals designated as U.S. EPA Hazardous Air Pollutants.
The license is the first for UMass Lowell on a consumer product of this kind. Proceeds, which will be based on sales of the product by SRD NEWGEN, will be reinvested into research at TURI and elsewhere at the university.
“In addition to providing important research funding for UMass Lowell faculty and students, bringing this product to the market aligns with the university’s mission of commercializing research for the public good,” said Rajnish Kaushik, associate director of UMass Lowell’s Office of Technology Commercialization
SRD NEWGEN was the best choice for the license for a range of reasons, including the company’s ability to get the product to consumers right away, according to the university.
The product will be manufactured by partners in the U.S. and Canada, including at US Pack in Leominster, Mass.
Super Remover is the No. 1 supplier of paint remover products in Canada.
“Never in 70 years has an alternative to methylene chloride been as effective as it is now,” said Sébastien Plourde, president of Super Remover and SRD NEWGEN. “We’re ready to go to market.”
Three major retail chains in Canada have already committed to sell the new, safer paint stripper product and negotiations are underway with additional U.S. and Canadian retailers to sell the new product.
About UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers. www.uml.edu
About SRD NEWGEN
SRD NEWGEN is a Canadian holding company, which holds the license of the new paint stripper formulation. SRD NEWGEN is committed to work with manufacturers, distributors, and retailers throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to replace the hazardous methylene chloride products with the new, safer paint stripper product. www.srdnewgen.com