UMass Lowell Toxics Use Reduction Institute Laboratory

3:35 PM

Methylene Chloride Part 1

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“The TURA Science Advisory Board (SAB) has recommended designating methylene chloride (also known as dichloromethane) as a higher hazard substance under TURA. With this designation, the reporting threshold for methylene chloride use would be lowered to 1,000 lb/year for companies in TURA-covered industry sectors with ten or more employees. New companies entering the program under the lower reporting threshold would be required to file annual toxics use reports, pay annual toxics use fees, and develop a toxics use reduction plan every two years. In addition, the TURA program would prioritize methylene chloride in allocating program resources, ensuring that facilities receive targeted assistance in reducing or eliminating use of this chemical. Based on this analysis, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute supports the SAB’s recommendation that methylene chloride be designated as a higher hazard substance.”
– Toxic Use Reduction Institute, “Summary of Policy Analysis, Higher Hazard Substance Designation Recommendation: Methylene Chloride or Dichloromethane (CAS 75-09-2)”

The TURI Cleaning Laboratory, laboratory assistants have been working with different solvents to find an alternative for Methylene Chloride for a couple of manufacturing companies that are currently using that chemical for removal of resins from different materials. According to the 2000 Toxicological Profile for Methylene Chloride by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, acute toxicity at short term exposure to methylene chloride can cause symptoms including skin, eye and respiratory irritation, depression of central nervous system function, headache, dizziness, nausea, incoordination, and unconsciousness.

At very high exposure, it can be lethal and cause damage to the liver, kidney or central nervous system. Some studies suggest that long term exposure to organic solvents such as methylene chloride may cause lasting and possibly permanent central nervous system effects. Fatigue, lack of muscle coordination, loss of concentration, short term memory loss, and personality changes exhibited as nervousness, anxiety or irritability are some of the potential long-term effects of chronic and frequent exposure. Methylene chloride was highlighted in the February 24, 2012 CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) due to the deaths of 13 bathtub refinishers (including one in Massachusetts) using methylene chloride containing products.

Belcastro Furniture Restoration Company ,located in Tyngsboro, MA, currently uses Methylene Chloride on their furniture to remove paint. At the moment, only the owner has proper training and ability to use the chemical using the correct personal protective equipment (PPE). We looked at the process that the company used on the wood and recreated that process within the laboratory. Our goal was to find an alternative that was affordable and had the ability to work as well, if not better, than Methylene Chloride. If we did find an alternative that worked, more employees would be able to work on paint removal which could increase productivity instead of just having one person working with one chemical for every furniture piece. So not only is it beneficial to switch to an alternative for health reasons, but it would allow this local business to increase within their business by having more people trained on paint removal.

We tested on a couple of chairs they provided us with that had lead paint and milk paint. Milk paint is one of the most difficult paints to remove from wood since it is protein based and most paint strippers won’t remove it according to RealMilkPaint. We currently have had a couple of possible solvent alternatives that are working very well at removal of both paints. Product Bio-circle CB 100 completely stripped the milk paint within 30 minutes at 60C temperature without using an abrasive pad. For the lead paint, we found that the product D-Solve 917 worked best when heated to recommended temperatures in the MSDS and completely removed the lead paint. We do not endorse any products, but are simply informing on the general study of different products.

Luis Raudalis

Alicia Melvin and Luis Raudalis

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