Methylene chloride is a volatile chemical used in a variety of products including those designed for paint and coating removal.  In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates approximately ten percent of the total methylene chloride used is found in paint and coating removal products. 

What is the concern with using paint and coating removal products that contain methylene chloride? The EPA has found risks to consumers using products containing methylene chloride to be unreasonable due to acute human lethality.  Short terms exposures to methylene chloride fumes can rapidly cause dizziness and loss of consciousness due to nervous system depression.  There is a particular concern over using methylene chloride containing products in enclosed spaces. 

Recent EPA regulations prohibit the manufacture, processing and distribution of methylene chloride for use in paint and coating removal products.  Retailers within 180 days of the final publication of the EPA regulations are prohibited from selling these banned methylene chloride products to consumers. 

What should consumers do with paint and coating removal products that contain methylene chloride? First, they should read the label of any paint and coating removal products that they currently have. Second, if these products contain methylene chloride in the listing of contents, they should discontinue use of the product.  Lastly, they should contact their state and local hazardous waste agencies regarding locations where they may take these products to be handled and disposed of safely. 

Be sure to check labels so that you can be sure products do not contain methylene chloride.  Although there is a ban on selling these products there could still be some inadvertently left on store shelves.  If so, bring this to the attention of the store owner and ask for assistance in obtaining a methylene chloride free product.  An alternative to chemical removal would be using mechanical methods such as steel wool, sand paper or a wire brush.  Because one may not know the contents of the paint or coating on the item where the paint or coating is being removed, a mask or respirator should be used along with proper ventilation when using a mechanical method.  This is also a good idea when using methylene chloride free products to further reduce any unwanted respiratory exposure. 

If you have any questions regarding methylene chloride or other hazardous chemicals, please contact me directly at (919) 459-5225 or [email protected].