Substances contained in dichloromethane-free paint strippers

Project No. BIA 1073


completed 07/2004


The hazards posed by paint-strippers containing dichloromethane have led many manufacturers to develop and distribute dichloromethane-free products. Dichloromethane-free paint strippers generally employ mixtures of substances such as dibasic esters, diglycol ethers, test petroleum spirits and N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone as solvents. A range of substitutes which are listed for example in the technical rule for hazardous substances TRGS 612 governing substitute materials, substitute methods, and restrictions upon the use of dichloromethane-based paint strippers are not subject to binding atmospheric limit values in Germany. The aim of this project was to derive information from relevant sources of data on the approximate health-based threshold limit values of these substances.


In order to establish whether health-based atmospheric limit values exist in other countries for constituents of dichloromethane-free paint strippers for which no MAK values exist, an Internet search was conducted in relevant databases, such as those of International Labour Organisation - ILO, World Health Organisation (WHO), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB), and the European Chemical Substances Information System (ESIS). Other Internet sources and lists of national limit values, within Europe and beyond, were also considered. Such lists include the mean shift exposure or national (in some cases tentative, i.e. recommended provisionally) atmospheric limit values recommended by manufacturers and expert groups such as the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). For the remaining substitutes for which reference to existing atmospheric limit values in Germany or other countries does not exist, a follow-up project is to attempt if necessary to conduct a simplified hazard assessment for proper use of the paint strippers.


Information on the approximate health-based threshold limit values was determined for eight of the fourteen substitute substances listed in the TRGS 612 technical rules for hazardous substances for which binding atmospheric limit values do not exist in Germany. These are dibasic ester (DBE), ethyl 3-ethoxypropionate (EEP) (CAS No. 763-69-9), 3-methoxy-n-butylacetate (CAS No. 4435-53-4), ethyl diglycol (CAS No. 111-90-0), 1,3-dioxolane (CAS No. 646-06-0), benzyl alcohol (CAS No. 100-51-6), gamma-butyrolactone (CAS No. 96-48-0) and p-mentha-1,8-diene (limonene) (CAS No. 138-86-3). For DBE and EEP, limit values indicated by the manufacturers were noted; for ethyl diglycol, benzyl alcohol and dl-limonene or 1,3-dioxolane respectively, recommendations by the AIHA and ACGIH; and in addition, for EEP, 3-methoxy-n-butylacetate, ethyl diglycol, gamma-butyrolactone and dl-limonene, national (in some cases tentative) atmospheric limit values were identified in lists of European limit values.

No limit value data were identified for fatty acid methyl ester (C8 to C14 fatty acids), alkyl acetates (C6 to C13), methyl decanoate (CAS No. 110-42-9), 2-ethyl hexyl acetate (CAS No. 103-09-03), benzyl formate (CAS No. 104-57-4) or butyl diglycol acetate (BDGA) (CAS No. 124-17-4).

TRGS 612 recommends that paint strippers containing dichloromethane no longer be employed. The health risk associated with the use of dichloromethane-free paint strippers, caused by exposure to the above substances which they contain, can be estimated from the measured approximate health-based threshold limit values for these compounds.

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Financed by:
  • Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG)
  • Bau-Berufsgenossenschaft Frankfurt
Research institution(s):
  • Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitsschutz - BIA

construction industry

Type of hazard:

Gefahrstoffe, Arbeitsbedingte Gesundheitsgefahren


Toxikologie, Chemische Arbeitsstoffe, Arbeitsumwelt (Belastungen, Gefährdungen, Expositionen, Risiken)

Description, key words:

dichloromethane-free paint strippers, toxicological adverse-effect threshold for constituents with no binding atmospheric limit values in Germany