U.S.: Chemicals kill bathtub refinishers

ATLANTA, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. workplace health investigators identified more than 12 deaths in the last 12 years associated with the use of stripping products in bathtub refinishing.

The Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program conducted an investigation in 2010 into the death of a bathtub refinisher who used a methylene chloride-based paint stripping product marketed for use in aircraft maintenance. The investigation identified two previous, similar deaths in Michigan.


Michigan notified the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which in turn notified the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A report published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said OSHA identified 10 other bathtub refinisher fatalities associated with methylene chloride stripping agents that had been investigated in nine states from 2000 to 2011.

"Each death occurred in a residential bathroom with inadequate ventilation," the report said. "Protective equipment, including a respirator, either was not used or was inadequate to protect against methylene chloride vapor, which has been recognized as potentially fatal to furniture strippers and factory workers but has not been reported previously as a cause of death among bathtub refinishers."


Worker safety agencies, public health agencies, methylene chloride-based stripper manufacturers and trade organizations should communicate the extreme hazards of using methylene chloride-based stripping products in bathtub refinishing to employers, workers, and consumers, CDC officials said.

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