VOC stands for volatile organic compound — any of several chemicals found in numerous consumer products, from gasoline and glue to correction fluid and colored markers. Even cosmetics, mothballs, air fresheners and household cleaning supplies contain VOCs.Because they’re volatile, these compounds vaporize and emit gasses. Paint strippers, for example, can emit high levels of VOCs into the air during use causing serious health problems and even death.
What Are the Risks Associated with VOC’s?
VOC’s are linked to a range of health problems, including some very serious diseases. Methylene Chloride a common chemical found in paint strippers, for example, is one of several VOC’s that’s known to cause cancer … not suspected — known, beyond any doubt. Other health effects besides cancer include kidney damage, liver damage, damage to the central nervous system (including the brain), as well as complaints like headaches and eye, throat, nose irritation, and death.
The health effects of VOC’s vary from source to source, and from person to person. Professional painters have been found to have a range of serious health problems, especially liver and kidney damage. People with pre-existing conditions, pregnant and nursing women, small children and other sensitive people are at particular risk.
Even an occasional paint stripping project can increase your risk of physical problems. Levels of VOC’s inside your house can increase up to 1,000 times after doing something like paint stripping. Paint stripping products, in fact, are the second-largest source of VOC’s after cars. The VOC’s in paint strippers can seriously affect the indoor air quality of even a well-ventilated home or work shop.
Avoiding VOC’s and Considering “Green” Paint Strippers
Lots of manufacturers are now claiming to make Eco-friendly paint strippers, but some of these claims are dubious and may be just greenwashing. Greenwashing is the practice of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claim about the environmental benefits of a product, service, technology or company practice. Greenwashing can make a company appear to be more environmentally friendly than it really is.
First of all, always follow all the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding safe use. Use only in well-ventilated areas, for example, and keep stripping products away from children and pets. And always look for paint strippers that have low-VOC’s.
What is N-Methylpyrrolidone?
N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), also known as N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone or 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone and colloquially as Methylpyrrolidone, is a colorless to slightly yellow liquid with a slight amine or “fishy” odor. NMP is an organic compound found in “safer paint strippers” often citrus or soy based stripping products. The problem is they are safer than Methylene Chloride but that is where it ends as they can still pose high health risks when used and because they pose as safe, people do not use the proper safety precautions required when using them.
Exposure To NMP
What can you do?
Check the Safety Data Sheet on any paint stripper you plan to use before you buy. Many of so-called Eco-friendly paint strippers still have plenty of toxic chemicals in them, like solvents, binders, etc. In any case, follow safety recommendations, dispose of them appropriately and use common sense. If you are concerned because you have small children or chemical sensitivities, consider a paint stripper with tested and proven science to back it up.
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Source: EZ Strip Blog