Preparing furniture for a new finish is a rewarding experience.
Knowing the proper use of chemical paint remover, and how to avoid
potentially adverse effects from overexposure, will make the experience
that much more enjoyable. Moreover, the confidence that comes
from such knowledge will no doubt have a positive effect upon
the quality of your work.
Listed below are some safety tips you should consult before and
during your refinishing project.
1. Read the label carefully. Familiarize yourself with
the safety precautions printed on the manufacturer's label. Refer
to it periodically during the project.
2. Provide maximum fresh air flow through the work area.
Avoid inhaling solvent vapors as much as possible. Take frequent
fresh air breaks.
3. Wear safety goggles while handling the remover. If any
remover gets into the eyes, wash with water. Keep your eyelids
open, even if you have to hold them open with your fingers. (Keeping
the eyelids open allows air in to evaporate the substance). If
burning sensation persists after about ten minutes, see a physician.
4. Cover all skin areas. Wear chemical-resistant rubber
gloves made of neoprene or butyl. Also wear long-sleeved shirt,
pants, socks, shoes, and a hat or cap (especially if you're working
at or above eye level). If any of the remover gets on the skin,
wash off with soap and water.
5. Avoid smoking. Don't work in an area where there is
a possibility of sparks or flames.
6. Open the container of remover carefully. Cover it with
a cloth and open the cap slowly to allow the gases to escape gradually.
Pour enough remover for your immediate working needs into a metal
can and replace the cap tightly. Repeat this procedure each time
you reopen the container. Store the container in a cool place
when not in use.
7. Don't store unused paint remover around the house. Buy
only what you need.
8. Keep paint remover and other household chemicals out of
the reach of children.
Any potential health risk from exposure to paint removing chemicals
depends on the amount and duration of exposure. Some physical
symptoms that indicate overexposure are eye irritation, dizziness,
light-headedness, and/or headache.
As soon as you experience any of these, take a break and get some fresh air. Do not resume the project until you have increased the ventilation through the work area. For your comfort and safety, take fresh-air breaks frequently
and leave the work site whenever you are not actually applying or removing stripper.
Other Possible Effects
A portion of inhaled methylene chloride in paint stripper is converted
by the body to carbon monoxide, which can lower the blood's ability
to carry oxygen. When the solvent is used properly, however, the
levels of carbon monoxide should not be hazardous.
Individuals with cardiovascular or pulmonary health problems should
check with their physician prior to use of the paint stripper.
Individuals experiencing severe symptoms such as shortness of
breath or chest pains should obtain proper medical care immediately.
Methylene chloride has been shown to cause cancer in certain laboratory
animal tests. Recent laboratory studies indicate, however, that the response is unique to animals tested and not relevant to humans. Available human studies, moreover, do not provide the necessary information to determine whether methylene chloride causes cancer in humans.
Nevertheless, it is prudent to minimize exposure to solvent vapors.