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Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1996 Jan;57(1):43-9.

Case study: control of methylene chloride exposures during furniture stripping.

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, USA.


Methylene chloride, a potential occupational carcinogen, is one of the principal solvents used for furniture stripping. Methylene chloride exposures among workers in furniture stripping operations have been found to be high. This article describes a furniture stripping operation at a sheltered workshop before and after the ventilation system was modified. Previous to ventilation system modifications, workers who were stripping furniture had exposures to methylene chloride ranging from 600 to 1150 ppm. These high exposures and an evaluation of the ventilation system prompted the design and installation of a modified ventilation system. Primary modifications included installing a local ventilation hood, decreasing the velocity of makeup air entering the stripping area, removing a contaminated charcoal adsorption bed and improving work practices. The modified system was arranged into three configurations that included a slot hood, a downdraft hood, and a combination slot and downdraft hood. The three configurations were evaluated over a three-day period, and it was found that they controlled the worker's personal exposures to methylene chloride while stripping to 28 ppm for the combination configuration, 30 ppm for the downdraft configuration, and 34 ppm for the slot configuration. Although the exposures are above the proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration permissible exposure level of 25 ppm, these results show a substantial improvement over the existing ventilation system. The ventilation system described is applicable to other furniture stripping facilities if rinse area local ventilation is improved.

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