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What is methylene chloride and how does it affect people?

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A substance called methylene chloride that is used to strip paint from furniture is deadly if the fumes accumulate where you are working. Many people have died because of inhaling this substance’s fumes over a period of time. You can asphyxiate and may have a heart attack if you inhale fumes in excess. A study was done and the research proves that there have been 56 accidental deaths due to exposure of the chemical since 1980.

In 2011, the European Union prohibited the substance from general use. The United States has not banned the product or even required better warnings. Even though there have been so many people affected, the Environmental Protection Agency is merely considering action at this late date.

Of course, the manufacturers of this chemical are lobbying against any type of regulation because it will affect their bottom line. They say that, if used properly, the product is safe to use. It is only if there is use that doesn’t follow the directions on the package that injury and death occur.

Some of the 56 people who died since 1980 because of this chemical include teenagers who were working jobs, a mother of four children and individuals who were almost retired.

This is just one example of how dangerous chemicals stay on the shelves of stores even though the authorities are aware that they are extremely dangerous. Many times, companies and manufacturers don’t stress safety and regulators from the government do not force the point.

If you have lost a loved one due to this type of activity, you need to know that there is someone in your corner who understands your grief and indignation, and will fight to uphold your rights, thanks to laws that protect families from such product negligence.

Source: The Center for Public Integrity, “Common solvent keeps killing workers, consumers,” Jamie Smith Hopkins, accessed Jan. 22, 2016

Jason Fuiman

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Co-Managing Partner and Chair of O'Dwyer & Bernstien's Labor & Employee Benefits practice, Jason has over twenty years of experience in the New York legal industry.