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Invited Commentary
April 19, 2021

Deaths From Methylene Chloride Exposure: When Chemicals Used at Home or Work Can Kill

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing
JAMA Intern Med. 2021;181(6):806-807. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.1058

Methylene chloride (dichloromethane) is used in chemical manufacturing, as a solvent in various products, and as the active ingredient in paint-removing products. Exposure via inhalation or skin contact to as little as a tablespoon of methylene chloride can kill a person (US Environmental Protection Agency; https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/final-risk-evaluation-methylene-chloride). In 2012, the European Union banned consumer paint-stripping products containing methylene chloride (https://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/europe/euronews/dossiers/dichloromethane.htm). So how are products containing 80% to 90% methylene chloride still allowed to be sold to consumers in the United States and to be used by workers?

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