NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Tub refinisher died due to methylene chloride overexposure while stripping a bathtub.

Michigan State University
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 10MI013, 2011 Oct; :1-21
In the winter of 2010, a 52-year-old male tub re-glazer died due to overexposure to methylene chloride (MC) vapor while stripping a bathtub in an apartment bathroom using Tal-Strip II Aircraft Coating Remover (Tal-Strip II). Methylene chloride was the primary ingredient of the aircraft-grade Tal-Strip II (60%-100%). The work process involved pouring Tal-Strip II directly from the container onto the tub surface and using a 4-inch paintbrush to spread the product. At approximately 9:30 a.m., the decedent arrived at the apartment complex. At approximately 11:10 a.m., one of the apartment maintenance personnel attempted to contact the decedent via cell phone. The decedent did not answer his phone, so the maintenance person went to the apartment to talk with him. The maintenance person found the decedent slumped over the tub on his knees with his face in the tub. The maintenance person called 911 and then called another maintenance person and instructed him to tell the property manager about the decedent's situation. After speaking with the property manager, the second maintenance person went to the apartment. When he arrived, he checked the decedent's pulse. Finding no pulse, the apartment employees pulled the decedent out of the tub and laid him on the bathroom floor. The second maintenance person checked the decedent's pulse again and also checked his airway for any blockage; he found no pulse or blockage. The second individual, a certified EMT, started CPR which lasted approximately two minutes. Emergency response arrived and transported the decedent to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead. The high concentration of MC in the product, the room configuration, the nature of the work, the lack of ventilation, and lack of proper respiratory protection contributed to his excessive exposure and subsequent death. Recommendations: Bathtub/tile refinishers should: 1. Use alternative stripping methods, such as sanding or strippers that do not contain methylene chloride or acids. Read and follow all label and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) instructions for use. 2. Implement a push-pull (fresh air and local exhaust) ventilation system if using MC-based strippers to reduce the airborne concentration of MC. 3. Always use a NIOSH-approved pressure demand, full-facepiece supplied air respirator (fresh air system) when using MC-based products due to MC's classification as a carcinogen and the individual's exposure to potential life threatening levels above the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) and Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL). A written respiratory protection program should be developed and implemented. 4. Develop and implement a Methylene Chloride exposure management plan that addresses the requirements of MIOSHA's Methylene Chloride Occupational Health Standard Part 313 if using a MC-based stripping agent. 5. Conduct employee time weighted average (TWA) exposure monitoring as part of the Methylene Chloride Exposure Plan and in compliance with MIOSHA's Methylene Chloride Occupational Health Standard, Part 313 and institute appropriate engineering, administrative and personal protective equipment control measures based on the monitoring results. 6. Perform on-the-spot air monitoring to provide immediate feedback to determine the effectiveness of implemented ventilation. 7. Select and wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including face protection and gloves based upon the work operations to be performed and the product's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). 8. Determine and implement safe work practices to reduce exposure. Manufacturers/distributers of aircraft-grade MC-based stripping products whose product is intended for the aircraft and/or other industries but are being used in bathroom/kitchen tub, sink, and tile refinishing industry should provide additional labeling and educational outreach regarding safe use of their products and consider ways to restrict their use so that it cannot be used in the bathtub refinishing industry.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Confined-spaces; Control-technology; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Protective-equipment; Protective-measures; Safety-education; Safety-engineering; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Training; Work-practices; Ventilation; Ventilation-equipment; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Author Keywords: Methylene chloride; toxic exposure; bathtub refinishing
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-10MI013; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008466; B11232011
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: December 17, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division