The Dangers of Dichloromethane Paint Strippers
How to dispose of dichloromethane paint strippers and be aware of the risks
Since 2011, there has been one chemical that has been banned from paint strippers on these shores. Known as Dichloromethane, or Methylene Chloride, it is a solvent-based chemical which has carcinogenic effects. Due to its health risks, Dichloromethane has been banned by EU and EEA trading member states.
In America, it is still used. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (America’s equivalent to our Health and Safety Executive) have created an awareness campaign. As part of OSHA’s Fatal Facts series, their latest fact sheet cites the case of a 30-year-old who suffered from asphyxiation. After exposure to a formula with 85% – 90% Methylene Chloride, he died.
The contractor wasn’t provided with proper PPE equipment, nor was the room properly ventilated. Furthermore, his employer didn’t consider the idea of alternative paint strippers, similar to those used in Britain and the rest of the EU. In this case, a more thoughtful employer and a blanket ban on dichloromethane paint strippers by the White House would have saved his life.
The health risks and side effects of methylene chloride inhalation include a loss of concentration, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and fatigue in minor cases. At worst, this could lead to the irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes or death.
In the shed, your silently rusting tin of paint stripper could be a potential killer. Especially if you purchased your product before 2011. If you’re an individual, your nearest recycling centre and landfill should have disposal facilities.
Supposing we were in a similar position – with any hazardous chemical – we need to keep records of consignment notes and consignee returns. GOV.UK’s website offers useful information for businesses wishing to dump their hazardous waste.
Premium Doors and Stripping, 19 August 2016.