Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site



Montipower, Inc.

Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

EPA Sees Wide Risks in Paint Strippers

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

More items for Surface Preparation

Comment | More

Methylene chloride, widely used in paint stripping products, poses a health threat to hundreds of thousands of workers, consumers and project bystanders, U.S. authorities have determined.

The findings of the final risk assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could move the agency a step closer to regulating the chemical, also known as Dichloromethane (DCM).

"Our review indicates that the use of DCM in paint strippers pose risks to human health, so EPA is beginning an effort to determine options for addressing the concern," Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

Paint Manufacturing Tank
CA Department of Health

A California alert followed the death of a worker using DCM paint stripper in this tank in 2012.

The agency is planning a public workshop in late fall to discuss "possible voluntary and regulatory actions" on DCM.

Alerts, Deaths

DCM was one of three chemicals for which EPA released final risk assessments Thursday (Aug. 28). The agency also recently concluded its assessment of Trichloroethylene (TCE), used as a degreaser and spray-on protective coating.

Public concerns over the safety of DCM-containing strippers have risen in recent years.

The European Union sharply curtailed the use and sales of methylene chloride paint strippers in 2012. The same year, California health regulators issued a Fatality Alert about the products after a tank painter died from vapors at a paint manufacturing plant. The strippers have been linked to a number of other deaths in the United States as well.

In January 2013, EPA announced that it would be evaluating DCM and four other chemicals. The assessments are part of EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan, which identifies chemicals for review and assessment of risks to human health and the environment.

What EPA Found

For DCM, EPA's final assessment "indicates health risks to both workers and consumers who use these products, and to bystanders in workplaces and residences where DCM is used."

USMC / Cpl. Rubin J. Tan

Paint remover is applied to an aircraft’s landing gear during an inspection aboard USS Enterprise. EPA estimates that more than 230,000 U.S. workers are directly exposed to DCM strippers.

The agency estimates that "more than 230,000 workers nationwide are directly exposed to DCM from DCM-containing paint strippers."

"Paint stripping poses some of the highest exposures among the various uses of DCM," the agency says in a Fact Sheet on DCM.

Other Paint Strippers

EPA is still evaluating risks from the use of N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP)-containing paint strippers and anticipates issuing that final risk assessment this fall.

Meanwhile, however, EPA's draft risk assessment for NMP identified risks associated with the use of NMP-containing paint strippers. EPA does not expect the final risk assessment to significantly change this conclusion and recommends that users of these products take measures to minimize exposure.

Paint Remover
Michigan State University

Methylene chloride is not the only stripping chemical of concern. The EPA also sees risks in products using NMP.

The California Department of Public Health offers a safety-focused guide to selecting paint strippers.

Flame Retardants, Degreasers

The other two chemicals in Thursday's announcement fared better in EPA's final analysis.

Risk assessments "did not show concerns" for Antimony Trioxide (ATO), a synergist in halogenated flame retardants, or for 1,3,4,6,7,8-Hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8,-hexamethylcyclopenta-[γ]-2-benzopyran (HHCB), a fragrance ingredient in consumer products, the EPA reported

Shanghai Vangel Chemical Co. Ltd.

The EPA reported no health concerns for the flame retardant additive Antimony Trioxide (ATO).

On the other hand, the agency's final risk assessment on TCE, released June 25, did raise concerns about certain uses.

The assessment identified health risks to consumers using spray aerosol degreasers and spray fixatives and to workers when TCE is used as a degreaser in small commercial shops and as a stain remover in dry cleaning. The agency also said TCE may harm the environment.

'Careful Consideration'

The new risk assessments are based on the "best available information" and were finalized after "careful consideration" of comments from the public and experts during an independent, scientific peer review of the assessments, according to the EPA.

"While EPA continues to support much needed reform of this country's chemicals management legislation, we are also using our current authorities as effectively as we can, which includes conducting risk assessments on chemicals to determine if they are safe for public use," said Jones.


Tagged categories: Chemical stripping; EPA; Health and safety; Methylene chloride; Surface preparation

Comment from Dallas Cochran, (9/2/2014, 9:23 AM)

Any Chemical Strong enough to take Paint Off is going to be a health risk. Like most products, proper cautions need to be used when using. Good Ventilation solves most of the problems of Methylene Chloride. Even water has health risk if not used correctly.

Comment from Karen Fischer, (9/2/2014, 9:56 AM)

All Halogenated Hydrocarbons are hazardous in one form or another.... Hydrocarbons in general are hazardous. One hydrocarbon that nearly the entire population is exposed to is gasoline.... hummmm....? Not much of a surprise to a chemist here...nor is the method of protecting those exposed. Yes, Dallas, even water is hazardous if you try to inhale it...

Comment from cassie petty, (9/2/2014, 10:25 PM)

Everyone ignored that buildup. First paragraph.

Comment from cassie petty, (9/2/2014, 10:26 PM)

Step up, 99 percent.

Comment from jan Maurits Schouten, (9/3/2014, 4:37 AM)

In the European Union the use and even producing and selling of paintstrippers containing Methylene Chloride is forbidden. representatives of professional painters protested at first, demanding exceptions for economic reasons, but the alternatives are good enough and much less toxic, so their protest was ruled out. This alle, ideed, years ago. I am surprised the US did not follow yet. The hazards are clear.

Comment from Adam Prince, (9/4/2014, 2:16 AM)

Jan Maurits Schouten Methylene Chloride based paint strippers have been scientifically proven to be twice as effective as any environmentally safe alternatives. The study was done by the Army Research Laboratory. The study name is "Performance Evaluation of Hap-Free Paint Strippers vs. Methylene-Chloride-Based Strippers for Removing Army Chemical Agent Resistant Coatings."

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (9/4/2014, 8:36 AM)

Add a little phenol and the methylene chloride can be even more effective at removing paint, though that certainly doesn't reduce the risk.

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Graco Inc.
Graco EcoQuip 2: Experience the Difference
While others claim their equipment is the same, none of them compare to Graco’s EcoQuip 2™ Vapor Abrasive® blasting line. Visit to learn more.

RCG America
Recycled crushed glass factory direct. Pallet to truckloads. Experience quality. Demand savings. Serving PA, MD, DE, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, MI, OH, IN, WV, KY.

Industrial Vacuum Equipment Corp.
Hurricane Vacuums
& Dust Collectors
Vacuum and dust collector hose, filters and related accessories.

Novatek Corporation
Dustless Coatings Removal
Novatek Corporation, Dustless Coatings Removal Strip, clean and profile all dust free! Comply with new lead standards. Contact today: (866) 563-7800

Blastox/The TDJ Group, Inc.
Blastox® - One Step Lead Abatement
Sandblast additive delivered to jobsite pre-blended to eliminate hazardous abrasive wastes. Why mix, meter or apply at the job-site? Blast with ease and
Let your painters paint!

CS Unitec
Dust Control Surface Prep Industrial Tools for Steel and Concrete
Scarifying • Grinding Scabbling • Descaling Dust collection for safer working conditions. Low-vibration for less worker fatigue. Trelawny™ power tools from CS Unitec. Learn more…

CHLOR*RID International Inc.
Companies that invest in corrosion control use CHLOR RID products
  • Soluble salt removal liquid
  • Test kits to verify contamination levels
  • Surface passivation to hold the blast
INFO@CHLOR-RID.COM 800.422.3217

NLB Corporation
NLB Sure Shroud: Greater Protection and Flexibility
NLB’s Sure Shroud’s lighter weight and flexibility reduces operator fatigue and offers unmatched protection against high pressure hose ruptures. 10k to 40k psi rated.

SABRE Autonomous Solutions
Introducing the ALPHA1 Blasting Robot
Once installed and commissioned – simply

Sauereisen, Inc.
Substrate Repair Materials

Substrate Repair Materials and Filler Compounds

Sauereisen's full line of underlayments are the ideal substrate repair materials to restore structural integrity prior to the application of SewerGard©


Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL

The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy Policy (Updated 5/24/2018)   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us