The Dangers of Methylene Chloride
Construction workers and those who are remodeling their home are sometimes exposed to very dangerous chemical called methylene chloride. This chemical is a chlorinated solvent, and is a colorless liquid that has a sweet smell. The chemical is commonly used to strip paint from surfaces and to clean metals or degrease. It is powerful and effective for these jobs, but also comes with health risks.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Adminsitration (OSHA) a worker was found dead in February of 2012 after working with a product contained methylene chloride when cleaning a bathtub. Also, in September 2011 another worker collapsed in a bathtub after using methylene chloride to strip a glaze from a bathtub during a remodeling project. This worker later died at a hospital from exposure.
As these two incidents show, methylene chloride can be fatal. Since 2000, there have been at least 14 deaths related to methylene chloride use when stripping and refinishing bathtubs. These deaths were all preventable. The OSHA says that workers need to use less hazardous chemicals or methods and eliminate the use of methylene chloride. When methylene chloride is required for a job, workers need to use it in a well-ventilated area and wear respiratory protection. They should also have protective clothing and equipment whenever they use the powerful chemical.
Workers can be exposed to the harmful effects of methylene chloride if they inhale it or absorb it through their skin. If a worker smells the chemical, then he or she is already overexposed. This is because methylene chloride does not give off an odor unless it is present in concentrations that exceed the OSHA’s permissible exposure limits. If you smell methylene chloride, then you may want to go to the hospital as precaution to make sure you won’t be injured by exposure.
Workers are most at-risk to dangerous methylene chloride exposure when they are working with no skin protection, working without being trained of the hazards of methylene chloride, and are working with no respiratory protective equipment. Also, working in a small, windowless, and poorly ventilated area can heighten the risk of a methylene chloride injury or death. Even if a person does not die from methylene chloride, it can still bring on dangerous effects. Many times methylene chloride can affect brain function, preventing a worker from concentrating.
At high levels, the chemical has the power to suffocate a worker, and at low levels it will cause dizziness, headaches, nausea and fatigue. The methylene chloride will break down in the body similar to the way that carbon monoxide does. If you want more information about methylene chloride exposure or want to seek compensation because you were exposed to the chemical at your workplace and the incident could have been prevented, talk to a New York injury attorney at Greenberg & Stein. You can file a construction accident or chemical exposure personal injury lawsuit and seek damages for your discomfort, medical bills, and recovery time.