Family Demands Ban After Chemical Kills Local Man

March 30, 2018, 11:39 am EST | Share:

CHARLESTON, SC (ANNE EMERSON, WTAT-TV) — A commonly used paint thinner is at the center of an investigation after a young Charleston man died while using it.

His family says there wasn’t a label letting people know about the potential dangers and risk.

“Drew was the youngest of our three boys,” said his mother. “(He was) always looking up to his older brothers and wanting to be part of their team.”

When 31-year-old Drew Wynne moved to Charleston he joined his brother Clayton in a coffee business. It eventually grew into his own start-up company, a cold brew coffee company called RipTide.

According to the coroner’s report, Drew was cleaning the floor of his warehouse last fall with a paint stripping product. The coroner says he was overcome by the fuse and incapacitated.

“I got a call from Drew’s business partner, Jimmy, and he was just panicked,” said brother Clayton. “Just screaming over and over again that ‘he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone.'”

The coroner’s report shows the cause of death was acute dichloromethane and methanol toxicity. A result of being exposed to methylene chloride, an ingredient in ‘Goof Off’ and other commonly used paint strippers.

But he’s not the only one. According to the Environment Defense Fund, more than 50 deaths are attributed to the exposure of methylene chloride. Three deaths were reported in 2017 alone.

“We’ve known for decades that this chemical used in paint thinners can kill,” said Dr. Sarah Vogel with the Environment Defense Fund. “We’ve been working to ban it – completely – from the market.”

Vogel says when the chemical metabolizes in the body, it turns into carbon monoxide – a toxic effect that can become lethal in just a few minutes.

She says attempts to ban the chemical are stalled at the moment with the EPA and she want’s the head of the agency to move forward.

“There were three deaths in 2017 while they were sitting on this proposed ban,” said Vogel. “If somebody else dies from this product while Scott Pruitt is sitting on this rule, it’s completely unacceptable.”

Drew’s mother agrees. Her team is now fighting for other families without Drew.

“We are very close and as I have said to friends, we’re just not whole,” said mom.

She says Drew was educated in construction management. The day that he was stripping the floor he had a respirator in and was wearing gloves.

We reached out to the company that makes Goof Off. We have not heard back. We also reached out to the EPA. The department says that it is now considering moving forward with the ban.

State leaders are also now taking action to make sure that a tragedy like this will not happen again.