Dangers of paint strippers

Dangers of paint strippers. (WPEC)

Paint strippers are common for d-i-y projects, but what's not commonly known is that the chemical can be deadly.

"He would light up the room when he walked in. He had that smile," said Wendy Hartley.

Wendy Hartley's son, Kevin was just 21, working at a new job refinishing bathrooms for his uncle, a few months later she got a call that her son was dead..

"He said, I'm sorry Mom. I did everything that I could. I couldn't save him," said Hartley breaking down.

The cause of Kevin's death? despite wearing gloves and a respirator, he'd been overcome by a chemical in the paint stripper he was using, a dangerous compound called methylene chloride.

"Methylene chloride is too dangerous to keep on the store shelves," Says Doctor Robert Harrison with University of California in San Francisco.

Harrison says in a small room, just a half-gallon 's worth of product containing that chemical can be lethal in less than an hour.

The government says over a 15-year period, 17 workers have died using methylene chloride, but Harrison says consumers are also dying too: he conservatively estimates the total number of deaths at over 40.

Last year the EPA proposed a ban on methylene chloride, but manufacturers pushed back. saying the problem is a ventilation issue and not an issue with the chemical. never the less methylene chloride has already been banned in the European Union for more than 6 years.

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