Thursday, November 16, 2017

Environmental Impact: What Effect Does Paint Stripping & Refinishing Chemicals Have On Our Ozone?

No matter if your stripping paint for home improvement, have a refinishing hobby, own and operate a professional refinishing business, or provide a professional coating stripping service the chemicals involved can be hazardous and cause significant impact on the environment. Replacing solvent-based paint strippers with non-hazardous alternatives can reduce your environmental impact and reduce hazardous waste generated during your stripping project.

Many paint strippers are solvent-based, and contain chemicals that are dangerous to humans. Some are flammable, and most can cause water and air pollution if not handled properly. Toxic chemicals in paint strippers may include Methylene chloride (also called dichloromethane, or DCM), methyl ethyl ketone (or 2-Butanone), acetone, toluene, methanol, N-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP), or xylene. These chemicals contain high levels of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Paint products being stripped also contain VOCs. VOCs react with oxygen and cause damage to the ozone layer. The damage is thought to be a contributory factor to global warming as part of the greenhouse effect. 

The ozone layer, which has been recovering slowly since the Montreal Protocol (1987) banned CFC gases, is again threatened, this time by chemical compounds used in paint strippers. Levels of Methylene chloride (DCM) are rapidly increasing in the stratosphere, threatening to delay the return to normal of the ozone layer alerts the study published in Nature Communications. Source - Although “modest at present, the impact of DCM on the ozone has grown significantly in recent years,” writes the team of American and British researchers. “Continued growth would offset some of the gains made by the Montreal Protocol,” they add.

The ozone layer forms a gaseous shield, between 10 and 50 km altitude, protecting the Earth from ultraviolet rays. A new study attempts to evaluate the damage caused by solvents for paints and varnishes. According to this research, the level of DCM in the stratosphere has almost doubled since 2004. If this growth were to continue, it could delay the recovery of ozone over Antarctica by more than a decade – where the “hole” was most alarming.

“We must act now to stop the emanations of DCM into the atmosphere if we want to avoid ruining 30 years of exemplary scientific and political action that has undoubtedly saved many lives,” said Grant Allen, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Manchester, in a commentary. Working on a restoration or refinishing project doesn’t need to mean poisoning yourself and the environment. Safer alternatives for stripping surfaces are available but some caution is required. You can find a lot of alternative choice strippers that claim they are safer than traditional chemical strippers and that is true. But the problem is they still pose health and environmental risks. 

EZ Strip Paint & Varnish Stripper is different from the other "safe alternatives" out there. The main active ingredient in EZ Strip strippers is Dibasic esters (DBEs). They do not absorb through skin and have low VOC properties. Instead of a chemical reaction that releases harmful vapors from the coating being stripped it simply breaks the bond between coating and surface so the paint or varnish can be removed easily without the release of VOCs. DBEs are water soluble and biodegradable which also reduce environmental impact. 

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