Updated April 29, 2013
Occupational Health Hazard Alert: Methylene Chloride in Paint Strippers and Bathtub Refinishing
Methylene chloride (DICHLOROMETHANE) is dangerous… There are safer alternatives!
What is the hazard?
Methylene chloride (MeCl) is a solvent used in various industries, including paint stripping and bathtub refinishing. Short-term exposure to MeCl can cause headaches, dizziness, eye, nose and throat irritation, chest pain, and trouble breathing. Exposure to very high concentrations (for example, in enclosed spaces) can be fatal. Long-term exposure to MeCl increases the risk of liver damage and cancer.
How might I be exposed?
MeCl enters the body through the lungs when an individual inhales the vapors, or can be absorbed through the skin. Exposure to MeCl can happen even when there is no odor present.
Who is at risk?
- Since 2000, thirteen bathtub refinishers have died nationwide from overexposure to MeCl-based strippers while working in closed rooms with inadequate ventilation. They were using products that contained a high percentage of MeCl.
- In 2011, a worker in a paint manufacturing plant died – and another became unconscious – when he used a MeCl-containing paint stripper inside a paint mixing tank (a permit-required confined space).
- Furniture strippers who use these products are also at risk of adverse health effects, including eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, liver damage, and cancer.
Download hazard alert flyer
Download methylene chloride fact sheet
To learn more about the health hazards of MeCl:
To learn more about chemical incidents involving MeCl:
To learn more about Cal/OSHA regulations regarding MeCl (including air monitoring):
For more information call the Workplace Hazard Helpline at: (866) 282-5516 (CA Relay Service: 800-735-2929 or 711)