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Hazardous chemical used to strip paint linked to 13 deaths

Every day, contractors and homeowners around the country and in states like New Jersey, flock to home supply stores in search of products to help them carry-out home improvement projects. The potential health risks and hazards associated with some of these products, however, are not always completely realized until it's too late.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that they've linked at least 13 deaths to the use of a chemical commonly found in products used to strip paint. While the chemical, known as methylene chloride, has been classified as "toxic" in some countries including Canada, it is still widely used by commercial furniture restoration companies and contained in several products sold directly to the public.

The 13 deaths occurred between 2000 and 2011, and were all the result of people using the chemical to strip and refinish bathtubs in residential homes. In all instances, it was determined that the bathrooms lacked proper ventilation needed to release the chemical's vapors and that those using the chemical did not use adequate respiratory protective equipment.

In light of the 13 known deaths, many do not believe enough is being done to ensure the safety of the public and prevent the improper use of products containing methylene chloride. The CDC has called upon public health and safety officials to warn employers, workers and the public about the extreme dangers associated with the use of products containing the chemical, but many question if this is enough to prevent future injury and deaths.

Individuals in New Jersey who have been exposed to products containing dangerous chemicals should immediately consult their healthcare provider. If exposure results in injuries that require medical attention and result in loss of work, those impacted may also want to consult a product liability attorney who can help determine if a lawsuit is warranted to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and potential physical injuries.

Source: CBS News, "CDC warns of bathtub refinishing chemical tied to 13 deaths," CBS News Staff, Feb. 24, 2012

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