What is DCM?

DCM Dichloromethane 

The use of the substance Dichloromethane (DCM) has previously been banned. Now, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has worked with manufacturers of DCM to change the law to enable DCM-based strippers to be used again, as long as users are competent to do so.

What is DCM?

Also known as Methylene Chloride, it is a colourless, volatile liquid which is widely used as a solvent. It is used in many products such as paint strippers, flooring adhesive and degreasers.

DCM based paint strippers penetrate the layers of paint and breaks the bond between the paint and the object.

Why was it banned?

DCM was banned due to the health risks associated with its use. It is very hazardous to health, suspected to be a carcinogen and must be handled with extreme care.

DCM is highly volatile, therefore it has two main routes of entry; inhalation and absorption through the skin. It is metabolised by the body into carbon monoxide and binds to haemoglobin in the blood, preventing the transport of oxygen around the body.

Symptoms of exposure via inhalation include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes

Prolonged skin exposure can result in the DCM dissolving fatty tissues in the skin, which can result in skin irritation and / or chemical burns.

DCM Dichloromethane

I need to use DCM-based products, how can I do this?

In order to be competent to purchase and use DCM-based products, you need to be awarded with a certificate of competency from the HSE. This is a two-part process:

1. Undertake a training course which covers what DCM is, the associated health risks, how to use DCM-based products safely and what control measures should be put in place. You can undertake this online with us; click here to view more information about the course and to purchase it for yourself.

2. Once you have a certificate of training you can then undertake a short online multiple choice test set by the HSE. This test is required to be conducted under examination conditions. We work in partnership with Strippers Paint Removers who offer the competency test. Click here to take a look at their website.