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MSU investigation links deaths to paint-stripping chemical

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posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 10:44 PM

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The deaths of at least 13 workers who were refinishing bathtubs have been linked to a chemical used in products to strip surfaces of paint and other finishes.

An investigation started by researchers at Michigan State University in 2011 has found that 13 deaths since 2000 - including three in Michigan - involved the use of paint-stripping products containing methylene chloride, a highly volatile, colorless and toxic chemical that is widely used as a degreaser and paint stripper. The chemical, in addition to being used in industrial settings, is available in many over-the-counter products sold at home improvement stores

The report is citing bathtub refinishing products, but the chemical is widely used in many other degreasing and paint stripping products.

The vapors from methylene chloride are heavier than air, and that makes the problem of lingering effects during and after use.

The stuff dries up but not all that fast.

Recommendations of use in well ventilated areas is on every product's warning labels.

While it previously was identified as a potentially fatal occupational hazard in furniture strippers and factory workers, a report released today in the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is the first time methylene chloride has been identified as a hazard to bathtub refinishers.

MSU Report

CDC Report

posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 10:57 PM
Indeed, methylene chloride is the third ingredient of the paint stripper I have in the shop. You CAN"T use that stuff in an enclosed place-it would choke you out immediately. I could see how prolonged exposure to that would kill someone.

I wonder what other over the counters it's in.

posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 11:23 PM
reply to post by Pilot

This link has a list (household names):
Products that contain this ingredient

It's in many automotive products.

And OSHA has some warning also:
OSHA Methylene Chloride

And here's a kicker:
Another name for the stuff is Dichloromethane (DCM or methylene chloride).
It is used to decaffeinate coffee !!


Dichloromethane's volatility and ability to dissolve a wide range of organic compounds makes it a useful solvent for many chemical processes. Concerns about its health effects have led to a search for alternatives in many of these applications.[1]

It is widely used as a paint stripper and a degreaser. [color=cyan]In the food industry, it has been used to decaffeinate coffee and tea as well as to prepare extracts of hops and other flavorings. Its volatility has led to its use as an aerosol spray propellant and as a blowing agent for polyurethane foams.

Dichloromethane (DCM or methylene chloride)

posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 11:42 PM
reply to post by xuenchen

Well, that solvent isn't really used much for decaf anymore. I think the method was phased out over a decade ago. But that doesn't mean it was totally unsafe either.

The solvent has a low evaporation point, and after soaking up the caffeine to remove it from the beans, it is removed from the mix, then evaporated to yield the removed caffeine.

Actuall solvent residue left afterward on the bean would be next to nothing.

edit on 23-2-2012 by boncho because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 11:51 PM
There used to be a paint stripping agent in those old chalky type banana lollies.

posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 11:59 PM
There are very few places that refinish bathtubs in a factory setting.
Most are done right in homes and the homes are very unlikely to have the proper ventilation equipment needed.

For the homeowner they might have a exposure of only a couple hours and only once. But the people that are doing it for a living are getting this exposure daily and for long periods of time.

Not only due you have the deaths but i will bet you have a lot of ex employees that have been permanently disabled and now the taxpayers are paying for all because some companies wanted to make a buck and did not protect there employees.

posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 12:26 AM
reply to post by boncho

It looks like some links to cancer have limited the use.

decaf chemicals

Coffee Decaffeination Process and Cancer

posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 12:31 AM

Originally posted by xuenchen
reply to post by boncho

It looks like some links to cancer have limited the use.

decaf chemicals

Coffee Decaffeination Process and Cancer

Yes. The solvent runs amok on DNA, however, I think the discontinuation would have more to do with the people/companies processing it. I highly doubt trace amounts could be found after roasting.

But don't let that bother you anyhow, there are far worse cases of chemical misuse.


Seems it was consumer pressure:

Due to the consumer disquiet about the use of synthetic chemical solvents, the pressure has been on food processors to find a natural and innocuous solvent for extracting caffeine from the green coffee bean.


I have a choppy memory =/
edit on 24-2-2012 by boncho because: (no reason given)

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