Methylene chloride is described as a volatile, toxic, organic solvent used in cleaning and paint stripping and is shown to be potentially fatal unless used in strict compliance with safety precautions. It is easily absorbed through the lungs and skin.
Short-term exposures to high levels can cause headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and lack of coordination. It is metabolized in the body to carbon monoxide, which may lead to irregular heart rhythms, heart attacks, and sudden death.
While methylene chloride vapor has been recognized as potentially fatal to furniture strippers and factory workers, it had not been reported previously as a cause of death among bathtub refinishers. Of the deaths identified, there were 10 different products involved -- six marketed for use in the aircraft industry, and the rest for use on wood, metal, glass, and masonry. None of the labels for the products mentioned bathtub refinishing.
"Employers should strongly consider alternative methods of bathtub stripping and always ensure worker safety protections," according to the agency. "Employers choosing to use methylene chloride-based stripping products must comply with OSHA's standard to limit methylene chloride exposures to safe levels."
"Work areas must be well-ventilated and when levels of methylene chloride exceed exposure limits even after implementation of engineering and work practice controls, workers must use respiratory protective equipment, such as tight-fitting, full-face, supplied-air respirators," according to OSHA.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
April 2, 2012
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