The Workplace Safety and Health Branch has recently dealt with a serious workplace incident involving a product containing the chemical methylene chloride (CAS 75-09-2). Also called dichloromethane (DCM), this chemical is sometimes contained in paint strippers commonly used in furniture and bathtub refinishing and is sold over the counter as a consumer product in retail stores.
Products with DCM when used in small poorly ventilated settings is extremely hazardous, rapidly reaching a dangerous airborne concentration that could lead to asphyxiation.
Employers should consider alternatives for products that include DCM due to the risk posed to the worker's health. If using, it is important to implement feasible engineering controls and provide a supplied air respirator where engineering controls are not feasible or are ineffective.
To prevent worker fatalities when using DCM containing paint stripping products employers must:
- Train workers on methylene chloride(DCM) hazards
- Provide adequate ventilation
- Bathroom fans and/or open windows do NOT provide adequate ventilation
- Provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment
- Implement a respiratory protection program as needed
- Provide and maintain effective work practice controls to reduce exposure
More on methylene chloride
Colorless, volatile liquid; sweet odor. Irritating to eyes/skin/respiratory tract. Toxic. Alsocauses tingling limbs, anemia, CNS effects, heart problems. Chronic: dermatitis, liver disease, CNS effects. Possible reproductive effects/cancer hazard.