You might not have heard much about methylene chloride, but it’s time we shed some light on this chemical found in paint strippers and various industrial products. Countless Americans have been regularly exposed to its dangers and are now suffering from lung cancer, liver cancer, and neurotoxicity that they may not realize was caused by the products they were breathing.
What is Methylene Chloride?
Also known as dichloromethane, methylene chloride is a volatile chemical that’s produced and imported into the United States in hefty amounts, with an estimated use of over 260 million pounds annually. It’s a versatile solvent used in a wide range of industries, including adhesives, paints, pharmaceuticals, metal cleaning, and more.
As of November 22, 2019, the EPA prohibited anyone or any corporation from manufacturing (including importing), processing, or distributing methylene chloride for consumer paint and coating removal. However, methylene chloride can still be manufactured, processed, and distributed for paint and coating removal by business-to-business vendors, or by industrial establishments or e-commerce sites that market solely for industrial use. However, the people who use these chemicals for industrial use are just as vulnerable as consumer who used it at home.
Health Risks of Methylene Chloride
Methylene chloride exposure has been associated with some serious health issues. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a thorough risk assessment, and the results aren’t pretty. Whether you’re a consumer, a worker, or just a bystander in an environment where methylene chloride paint and coating removal products are used, there are serious risks to consider.
Short-term exposure can harm your central nervous system, causing neurotoxicity. But that’s not all – long-term exposure for workers has been linked to liver toxicity, liver cancer, and even lung cancer.
EPA’s Move to Protect Consumers
Thankfully, the EPA has taken steps to address these health risks. On January 12, 2017, they proposed a rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act. This rule:
1. Prohibits the manufacture, processing, and distribution of methylene chloride for consumer paint and coating removal.
2. Restricts its use for most commercial paint and coating removal.
3. Mandates notification throughout the supply chain.
4. Introduces limited recordkeeping.
The EPA didn’t go it alone; they collaborated closely with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure the safety of workers. They both agreed that this approach would provide faster and enhanced protection.
Identifying Methylene Chloride
One tricky part is figuring out if a product contains methylene chloride. Product names and ingredients can change over time. To be sure, here’s what you can do:
1. Carefully read the product label – it should list the ingredients.
2. Check the material safety data sheet (MSDS) or the product safety data sheet (PSDS) provided by the manufacturers.
3. Look for alternative names like dichloromethane or DCM.
4. Identify it using its Chemical Abstract Number: 75-09-2.
Playing it Safe
Now, let’s talk about minimizing your exposure. The EPA has some valuable advice to protect yourself and your loved ones:
1. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using paint and coating removal products.
2. If possible, use these products outdoors to reduce indoor exposure.
3. If you have to work indoors, ventilate the area with fresh air or a fan to minimize methylene chloride vapors.
4. Consider hiring professionals for indoor projects with limited ventilation.
5. Use methylene chloride-resistant gloves made of polyethylene vinyl alcohol and ethylene vinyl alcohol (PVA/EVA) to protect your skin.
What if I was Diagnosed with Cancer After Using Methylene Chloride Products?
Unfortunately, makers of unsafe products tend to get away with it until people like us take a stand against them. For decades, OnderLaw has taken on some of the largest companies in the world to hold them accountable for harm they have caused to unsuspecting, hard-working Americans. If you were exposed to paint strippers or other products containing methylene chloride or dichlormethane for more than a year, are not a smoker, and have since been diagnosed with lung cancer or liver cancer, we may be able to help you recover some of the financial help you need for treatment and to move forward with your life. If a loved one was exposed and has since died of their illness, we may also be able to help.
Do I Need a Methylene Chloride Lawyer?
Our expert legal team of personal injury lawyers at OnderLaw has faced powerful companies head-on, and we know what we’re up against. It’s not easy, but we are ready to go to battle for our clients. Call us at 800-799-2824 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll review the facts of your case and provide guidance on how to proceed. We work on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay us a dime unless we help you win your claim.
Stand with us today and help us change the way corporations do business. Together, we are making a difference.