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Sunday, May 25, 2008

What is methylene chloride? Dichloromethane (DCM)?


When you buy paint stripper and you smell that ether-like or mild sweet odor - that is methylene chloride or dichloromethane (DCM).

DCM is a colorless, volatile liquid solvent that is use as paint strippers, degreasers, aerosol spray propellant, blowing agent, fumigant pesticide, and also use to decaffenate coffee, and many more. Inhalation hazard of DCM, is one reason why the European Commission is banning the use of DCM in paint stippers. This health hazard is related to its vapours and its toxic effects to the central nervous system.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) consider the DCM to be a potential cause of cancer in humans. Because DCM evaporates quickly, and you can inhale it easily. Breathing high levels of methylene chloride over short periods can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, and lungs. Some of the effects are dizziness, headache, and lack of coordination. There will be body changes, the inhaled methylene chloride changes to carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide lowers the blood's ability to carry oxygen. This can cause problems for people with heart, lung, or blood diseases who use methylene chloride paint strippers indoors without fresh air cross-ventilation. High exposures to DCM for long periods can also cause liver and kidney damage.
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