Chemical Workplace exposures

EPA assesses paint-stripping chemical; says pregnant workers may be at risk

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Washington – The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that high exposure to a chemical used to remove paint and coatings can present risks to pregnant women and women of childbearing age.

EPA evaluated health risks to workers, consumers and residents of homes and offices where N-Methylpyrrolidone (also known as NMP) is used in paint and coating removal products, and the agency released its final risk assessment on March 23.

Paint-stripping products present “some of the highest exposures” for NMP, which also is used in engineering plastics coating, agricultural chemicals, electronic cleaning, industrial/domestic cleaning and petrochemical processing, according to the agency.

Women of childbearing age can reduce their risk by wearing certain types of chemical-resistant gloves when using NMP for less than four hours per day. However, gloves and respirators do not reduce the risk when using the chemical for more than four hours per day or repeatedly over several days.

Users of paint and coating removal products should adhere to the manufacturer’s directions, EPA states, and the products should be used outdoors. If using the products indoors, ventilate the area and wear NMP-resistant gloves.

The agency is considering possible voluntary and regulatory actions.