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Technical Bulletin 1

What You Should Know About Using Chemical Paint Removers

Chemical paint removers such as CMA’s Strip-It-Dry are probably the most time saving, efficient, and cost effective methods of removing paint from painted surfaces.

However, paint removers contain chemicals that can be harmful if not used properly. We have listed some general safety steps to keep in mind when using any chemical paint remover.

  1. Always read and follow all the instructions and safety precautions on the label. Do not assume you already know how to use the product. The label tells you what actions you should take to reduce hazards and the first aid measures to use.

  2. Wear chemical-resistant gloves.

  3. Avoid getting paint remover on your skin or in your eyes. Wear protective clothing and goggles appropriate for the project.

  4. Use paint removers outdoors if possible. If this is not possible, make sure you select an area that is well ventilated to the outside environment and away from other workers in the work place. Ventilate this area before, during, and after applying the paint remover. Never use a chemical paint remover in a poorly ventilated area. Fans and exhaust fans are the best way to improve cross-ventilation and fresh air movement.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established an exposure limit for Methylene Chloride, one of the chemicals used in most paint removers. The worker exposure limit for this product is 25 parts per million (ppm) as an 8 hour time weighted average (twa) and 125 ppm over a 15 minute period as a short term exposure limit (stel). Complying with the OSHA standard is simple providing employees are not exposed to airborne concentrations about the set limits. The key to compliance with the OSHA standard is simply ventilation and short term worker exposure.

If possible select an area in the workplace isolated from the rest of the workplace. Make aure this area is well ventilated to the outside environment. When applying the paint remover with a brush, brush on a medium coat in one direction only. Moving the brush and paint remover in a back and forth motion breaks the evaporation barrier and releases chemical vapor into the surrounding air. Once the paint remover is applied to the painted surface, seal the can, cover the brush and leave the isolated work area. When removing wet paint and paint remover, make sure the wet residue is contained and removed to the outside of the building or shop.

If large painted surfaces need to be stripped, one suggestion would be to use a paint remover that dries such as CMA’s Strip-It-Dry. This paint remover can be applied to the painted surface just before closing the shop and left overnight. The area around the surface should be moderately ventilated to the outside and a temperature maintained above 60 degrees F. When the shop is opened the next morning, the paint and paint remover should be dry and easily removed with no worry about chemical vapors. Another suggestion would be to strip the surface in a ventilated paint booth or other ventilated enclosure.

No matter what method you choose, remember that with proper ventilation and short-term employee exposure in the workplace, compliance with the OSHA limits can be achieved.

The information contained herein is intended to be accurate and informative. However, CMA Refinishing Solutions, Inc. is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional service, and the assistance of competent professionals should be sought as needed. The recommendations or suggestions contained in this bulletin are made without guarantee or representation as to results, and any and all warranties either expressed or implied are declaimed.