Nashville mom meets with head of EPA after dangerous chemical kills her son

Local News
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Major developments in a Middle Tennessee mom’s crusade. Nearly a year has passed since her son passed away, overcome by fumes from a dangerous chemical.  

Now, that chemical may soon be banned in certain home improvement products.  

After a face to face meeting with the head of the EPA, Wendy Hartley hopes real nationwide change is on the way.  

It’s been a whirlwind year for Wendy. Her son Kevin was killed last May, overcome by fumes while stripping a bathtub.

She would learn a dangerous chemical was to blame, methylene chloride, which can be found in paint strippers in home improvement stores.  

“I never imagined that i would be doing what i’m doing today,” noted Hartley. “I’m a mom that’s heartbroken, and pissed off, and that gets a lot done.” 

This mom has been on a mission, with trips to and from the nation’s capital, and a media blitz coast to coast.

Wendy has spoken with CBS This Morning, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press to name a few.  

Her biggest meeting though came Tuesday, as she teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund, and Cindy Wynne, who’s son Drew was killed by the same chemical.  

The two mothers met with Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator.  

“The EPA has a mission to protect workers and consumers,” Wynne said. “By not banning this product, they’re not following their mission.” 

The EPA already proposed a ban on paint strippers containing methylene chloride, under President Obama’s administration.  

That ban was delayed indefinitely under Pruitt.  

Pruitt, Wendy says, kept his cards close to the vest on Tuesday.  

“He was very receptive to what we had to say,” she said. “He did admit methylene chloride was a problem, but would not go as far as to say he was going to ban it.” 

Now, a new release from the EPA have renewed activists’ optimism.

“I was excited, but cautiously optimistic,” said Hartley. “This means maybe they’re doing something, it’s a step forward.” 

Another step, in a long journey for this Middle Tennessee mom, that won’t end without a ban.  

“I’ll keep talking, I’ll keep fighting,” Hartley said. “Keep pressing my Tennesseans up there, to try and get something done.” 

An EPA spokesperson sent News 2 a statement on Pruitt’s meeting with Hartley and Wynne. 

The meeting with the families was constructive. It provided the families the opportunity to share with Administrator Pruitt the circumstances in each of their cases and the Administrator the opportunity to hear directly from them. There was an exchange of ideas, and we appreciate EDF reaching out to request the meeting.

There is no word on when a ruling will be released.  

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