About Paint & Varnish Removal

Cleanup & Disposal

As you finish a section, wrap the remover/old finish in a thick fold of newspaper and place outdoors, where the liquid will evaporate quicker. After each work session, place all other papers, rags, applicators and waste (old-finish residue) outdoors. Be sure to collect all of the residue, as the old paint may contain toxic materials.

Clean work materials such as the scraper and paintbrush with Kwikeeze brush cleaner, mineral spirits or if using water wash method then detergent solution.

When the liquid has evaporated (it typically evaporates very fast), place all these materials into a metal container that has a secure lid. You can then dispose of the material according to local waste disposal requirements. Contact your local sanitation department or waste disposal contractor for more information.

Safety First

Preparing a surface for a new finish should be rewarding experience. Knowing the proper use of a chemical paint remover, and how to avoid potentially adverse effects from overexposure, will make the experience that much more enjoyable. Moreover, the confidence that comes from such knowledge will no doubt have a positive effect upon the quality of your work. Following are general discussions related to short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) health effects pertaining to the use of chemical paint removers. Any potential health risk from exposure to paint removing chemicals depends on the amount and duration of exposure.

Short-Term (Acute) Health Effects

Exposure to high levels of paint removers over short periods of time can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, mucous membranes and respiratory tract. Other symptoms of high exposure are dizziness, headache and lack of coordination. The occurrence of any of these symptoms indicates that you are being exposed to an excessive amount of the substance. At the onset of any of these symptoms, you should leave the work area and get some fresh air. Do not resume the project until you have increased the ventilation through the work area.

A portion of inhaled methylene chloride in paint stripper is converted by the body to carbon monoxide, which can lower the blood's ability to carry oxygen. When the solvent is used properly, however, the levels of carbon monoxide should not be hazardous. Individuals with cardiovascular or pulmonary health problems should check with their physician prior to use of the paint stripper. Individuals experiencing severe symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pains should obtain proper medical care immediately.

Long-Term (Chronic) Health Effects

Methylene chloride has been shown to cause cancer in certain laboratory animal tests. Recent studies suggest methylene chloride is not likely to cause cancer in humans. The research concluded that the type of enzyme activity responsible for the formation of the cancer causing metabolite in mice is not present in human tissue. However, as a result of the animal studies, EPA does classify methylene chloride as a potential cancer hazard to humans. It is prudent to minimize exposure to solvent vapors.