05 July 2011 17:58 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--EU-wide restrictions on the marketing and use of methylene chloride (MEC) as a solvent for paint stripping have put a ceiling on sales growth, European suppliers said on Tuesday.
Sales of MEC increased by 13% in 2010 compared with the previous year, according to data released by the European Chlorinated Solvent Association (ECSA) on Monday.
Sales climbed to 113,000 tonnes from 100,000 tonnes in 2009 as a result of the global economic recovery and increasing demand from downstream markets such as the pharmaceutical and coating industries.
However, the new European legislation, effective from 6 December 2010, has resulted in customers seeking alternative solvents, slowing demand, and bringing the 2010 upwards trend to an end, suppliers said.
The new law established that paint strippers containing MEC at a concentration equal to or greater than 0.1% can no longer be placed on the market for the first time for supply to the general public or to professionals.
This regulation is having an important impact on the European market, said a supplier.
“Demand has slowed because our customers are starting to invest in alternative solvents,” it added.
Another supplier said that the impact of this restriction has not been so strong because derogation for professional use is still possible, whereas industrial use has not yet been affected.
However, from 6 June 2012, the use of MEC by professionals will also be banned, although EU member states will still be able to permit the supply and use by specifically-trained professionals of paint strippers exceeding the 0.1 % limit for certain activities within their territory.
In a joint paper published in 2007, members of ECSA and of the UK and Ireland Paint Stripper Formulators Group claimed that MEC-based paint strippers were statistically as safe as alternative products on the market.
They also argued that alternative chemical paint strippers to MEC were demonstrably less effective, which meant the use of blow torches and heat guns for paint removal might increase once MEC was restricted.
ECSA represents the interests of the producers of chlorinated solvents in the EU that are organised under the Brussels-based business association Euro Chlor.
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