the use of methylene chloride stripping agents for bathtub refinishing. According to the report, 12 methylene-chloride-related
deaths associated with professional bathtub refinishing operations
occurred in the U.S. from 2000 to 2011. All the deaths occurred in
residential bathrooms with poor or no ventilation. In addition, the
refinishers did not use respirators or other protective equipment. In
six of the cases, toxicology tests found methylene chloride blood
levels from 18 to 223 mg/L. OSHA’s allowable air standard for exposure to methylene chloride fumes is <2 mg/L.
Methylene chloride is a volatile, toxic, organic solvent used in
cleaning and paint stripping. According to the National Toxicology
Program (NTP), methylene chloride is “reasonably anticipated to
be a human carcinogen” ( http://1.usa.gov/ntpmethylenechloride).
It has already been identified as potentially fatal to furniture strippers and factory workers but has not been previously identified as a
cause of death among bathtub refinishers.
Stripping products containing methylene chloride are widely
available to professional bathtub refinishers but can also be purchased online or in hardware stores. CDC calls for the hazards of
using methylene chloride-based products in bathtub refinishing to
be communicated to employers, workers and consumers.
The MMWR report is available at http://1.usa.gov/mmwrmethylene
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