239345 Paint stripping with methylene chloride: Due to regulatory failure, workers have much better protection than consumers

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Myra Karstadt, PhD , Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Although there are other options for stripping paint, methylene chloride remains the most popular paint stripper. Some paint stripper formulations, used by consumers and workers, are close to 100% methylene chloride. Workers and consumers perform similar tasks while stripping paint. OSHA's standard for methylene chloride, a "potential occupational carcinogen" with other serious adverse effects, requires limited access areas and respirators and other protection provided by employers as needed. Consumers who use methylene chloride-containing paint strippers at home are inadequately protected against the harmful effects of exposure to the chemical because the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and EPA have failed to act. CPSC has the authority to require changes in products containing methylene chloride, but the agency hasn't taken action. EPA has jurisdiction over individual chemicals such as methylene chloride, and although EPA has regulated methylene chloride in water, air and hazardous wastes, use of EPA's statutory authority to limit consumer exposures to methylene chloride in paint strippers has not taken place. An information packet on methylene chloride-containing paint strippers is the only visible product of those agencies to date. Material safety data sheets (MSDS) for methylene chloride-containing paint strippers tend to be poor communicators of information to consumers, although MSDS are routinely used for consumer information. OSHA, CPSC and EPA should cooperate to improve those MSDS, and to eliminate gaps in regulatory authority.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Basic medical science applied in public health
Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
After hearing this presentation, learners will be able to identify and describe hazards associated with stripping paint with methylene chloride, protections available to workers and problems associated with consumer use of methylene chloride paint strippers. The learner will be able to compare protections given workers and protections available to consumers. The learner will be able to identify and describe regulatory shortfalls that have resulted in consumers having inadequate protection from the hazards of exposure to methylene chloride paint strippers.

Keywords: Consumer Protection, Occupational Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have extensive experience in the area of toxic effects of exposure to methylene chloride in the workplace and in consumer use. This experience includes research and publications on these issues.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.