Deaths linked to tub paint stripper prompts warning

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2012 10:28 AM
Deaths linked to tub paint stripper prompts warning

(Reuters) - Federal health officials on Friday warned of serious hazards for workers and consumers using a common paint-stripping agent for bathtub refinishing after linking the chemicals to 13 deaths over the last decade.

The 13 bathtub refinisher deaths were tracked across 10 states from 2000-2011 and each fatality happened in a residential bathroom lacking adequate ventilation, according to a weekly report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ten different products containing methylene chloride that were marketed for use in the aircraft industry or on wood, metal, glass and masonry -- but not for bathtub refinishing -- were linked to the deaths, it said.

They contained between 60 percent and 100 percent methylene chloride.

Methylene chloride is a highly volatile, colorless, toxic chemical that is commonly used as a degreaser and paint remover and absorbed primarily by inhaling the vapors.

The vapor has already been noted as potentially fatal to furniture strippers and factory workers, but had not previously been linked to bathtub refinishers, it said.

Products containing the chemical are typically applied by using a paint brush or aerosol spray and help bathtub coating pucker to be more easily scraped away, the CDC said.

Products containing the chemical are readily available on the Internet and in hardware stores, it said, putting both professional bath refinishers and consumers taking on do-it-yourself projects at risk.

The CDC report recommended alternate bathtub stripping methods like sanding, or chemicals including acetate, mineral spirits and caustic paste instead of a methylene chlorided-based agent.

(Reporting By Lauren Keiper; editing by Dan Burns)