142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Toxic Paint Removers: Safer Choices

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 10:30 AM - 10:50 AM

David Harrington, MPH , Occupational Health Branch, California Department of Public Health, Richmond, CA
Robert Harrison, MD, MPH , Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of Califiornia, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Jennifer McNary, MPH, CIH , Occupational Health Branch, California Department of Public Health, Richmond, CA
Laura Styles, MPH , Occupational Health Branch, California Department of Public Health, Richmond, CA
Dennis Shusterman, MD, MPH , Occupational Health Branch, California Department of Public Health, Richmond, CA
Background and objectives:

Deaths among workers using paint removers containing methylene chloride (MeCl) initiated investigation and outreach by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).  Workers and consumers may be exposed to MeCl when removing paint or coatings, manufacturing foam products, painting with epoxy paints, or spraying adhesives.  Most users do not appreciate MeCl’s extreme volatility, toxicity, and ability to permeate gloves and respirators.  Given the wide-spread use of MeCl, the Occupational Health Branch at CDPH developed the Toxic Paint Removers: Safer Choices Campaign.   


We conducted a needs assessment of paint and hardware store managers, contractors, and paint product suppliers.  The purpose was to identify  those resources that would be most useful in assisting users to move toward selecting safer choices, the most effective messages and communication methods, and the best outreach and dissemination approaches.


The needs assessment informed  the development of a poster for store shelves and employee trainings that displayed paint strippers categorized into 4 different color-coded hazard levels; a safer products guide for shoppers; a chart on the appropriate type of ventilation and personal protective equipment; and an outreach and dissemination strategy.


MeCl-containing paint strippers have been substantially restricted in the European Union.  In the U.S., a campaign to promote safer substitutes should complement the historical focus on lowering exposure limits.  Our efforts are an example of how the movement toward green chemistry products involves a nexus of encouraging research, developing new technology, and making effective, commercially-available substitute products more widely promoted.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Chronic disease management and prevention
Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify the challenges and necessary elements and resources that are required for a safer chemical substitute campaign.

Keyword(s): Chemical Exposures & Prevention, Occupational Health and Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I had the lead role in developing and implementing the needs assessment that informed the development of the educational materials and the outreach and dissemination strategy for the Toxic Paint Removers: Safer Choices Campaign. I have over 25 years of experience in the occupational health and safety field that has included previous work on developing safer less toxic product substitution interventions in the workplace and environment.
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.