Bathtub refinishing workers are now known to be at risk of death from exposure to methylene chloride, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 2000 and 2011, thirteen workers died while refinishing bathtubs with this dangerous product.
Methylene chloride, also called dichloromethane, is used for degreasing, paint stripping and furniture refinishing. Almost three-fourths of the commercially produced chemical is used on furniture. It is a very volatile, toxic chemical and is usually brushed or sprayed on surfaces. Breathing the vapor from this chemical can damage the lungs, kidneys, and nervous system.
To limit its toxic effects, it should be used only in a well-ventilated area, and if it is impossible to provide enough ventilation, workers should wear respirators for protection.
While the risks from the more common uses of methylene chloride have been well known, only recently has the danger to bathtub refinishers come to light. The workers who died were all working in home bathrooms -- small, enclosed spaces with little circulation of fresh air.
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