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Methylene Chloride  Continues to be a Fatal Hazard in the Workplace
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Methylene Chloride Continues to be a Fatal Hazard in the Workplace

Occupational Exposure

Exposure to paint strippers containing methylene chloride remains a severe health concern for workers. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently refused to extend the United States Environmental Protection [EPA] agency's regulations to cover methylene chloride in the commercial setting.

OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE SYMPTOMS
Exposure to methylene chloride, a chemical used in paint products, can result in the following:
     - Death
     - The neurological impact, such as coma, incapacitation, loss of consciousness, dizziness,
     - Liver effects

MEDICAL CONDITIONS
Chronic exposure to methylene chloride can result in the following:
     - Brain cancer
     - Liver cancer
     - Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
     - Multiple myeloma.

EPA REPORTED HAZARD
Methylene chloride is commonly used by persons who refurbish bathtubs. It is also known as dichloromethane (DCM). Over 49 deaths were caused by methylene chloride, according to documents published by the US Environmental Protection Agency [EPA].  The EPA reported that even requiring respirators still produces the acute risks of incapacitation or death and workers exposed to methylene chloride.

OSHA WARNINGS
"Methylene chloride, also called dichloromethane, is a volatile, colorless liquid with a chloroform-like odor. Methylene chloride is used in various industrial processes in many industries, including paint stripping, pharmaceutical manufacturing, paint remover manufacturing, and metal cleaning and degreasing. The most common means of exposure to methylene chloride are inhalation and skin exposure. OSHA considers methylene chloride to be a potential occupational carcinogen."

2nd CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS
While methylene chloride has been banned for sale in the retail market, the Court ruled that commercial workplaces are still permitted to use this hazardous chemical. The court reasoned that the E PA is still contemplating a rule that will drastically reduce or eliminate methylene chloride used in a commercial setting.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS
Workers' compensation benefits are available for those eligible workers who have been injured due to exposure to methylene chloride in an occupational setting. If you have been exposed, you should consult a lawyer familiar with workers' compensation benefits as soon as possible.

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Docket Nos. 19-1042(L); 19-1033l 19-2329, 2021 WL 3889957, 12 F.4th 234 (2 C.A. 2021), Decided September 1, 2021.

Recommended Citation: Jon L. Gelman,  Methylene Chloride  Continues to be a Hazard in the Workplace, Workers' Compensation Blog (Sept. 7, 2021), https://www.gelmans.com/ReadingRoom/TabId/65/ArtMID/1482/ArticleID/1088/Methylene-Chloride--Continues-to-be-a-Fatal-Hazard-in-the-Workplace.aspx
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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne, NJ, is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

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