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Paint maker dies from exposure to dichloromethane (methylene chloride) while cleaning a paint tank

California Case Report: 11CA009

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


A paint maker died while cleaning the inside of a tank using a paint stripper that contained dichloromethane (methylene chloride). The victim was working by himself using a paint stripper to remove dried paint from the inside of a tank. The stripper contained methylene chloride, methanol, and mineral spirits. The tank was a permit-required confined space. The space was not adequately ventilated and the victim was not trained in confined space entry. There was no attendant at the tank opening to monitor the work process while the victim was in the tank. The victim was wearing a cartridge respirator that did not adequately protect against inhaling methylene chloride vapors. The victim was observed unresponsive at the bottom of the tank by a co-worker. The co-worker tried to rescue the victim and was overcome by vapors. The high concentration of methylene chloride in the product, the tank configuration, the inadequate ventilation, and the inadequate training and implementation of confined space procedures were contributing factors in this incident.

Paint maker dies from exposure to dichloromethane (methylene chloride) while cleaning a paint tank [PDF 529 KB]

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