Common hazardous ingredients
Solvent-based–acetone, benzene, carbon tetrachloride, methanol, methylene chloride, phenols, toluene. Water-based-aliphatic petroleum distillates, dibasic acid esters, n-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), propanoic acid. Alkali-based-lye (sodium hydroxide). Lead, if paint is from a building built before 1978.
Solvent-based products are flammable and highly toxic. Alkali-based products are corrosive. Air pollutant. Benzene, carbon tetrachloride and methylene chloride are known or suspected carcinogens. Lead can cause reduced growth, hearing loss and impaired learning ability.
Any object painted before 1978 should be tested for lead before stripping. Simple test kits are available at local hardware stores, or paint chips can be sent to a lab for testing. Contact the Oregon Lead Poisoning Prevention Program for more information.
Avoid using solvent-based strippers, especially if you are pregnant. Read the label instructions before starting the job. Work in a well-ventilated area that is outdoors and in the shade if possible. Wear chemical splash goggles, a respirator and heavy rubber or nitrile gloves.
Keep container tightly closed when not in use. Store in a secure place away from children and sources of heat or flames.
Best: Use up or give away. Wrap scrapings in several layers of newspaper and place in a heavy-duty plastic bag. Dispose of bag and container in the garbage.
Second best: Take to a hazardous waste facility or collection event.
If the paint does not contain lead, use a scraper, rasp, abrasive block, heat gun or sandpaper to remove paint without chemicals. Wear a respirator to avoid breathing paint dust.
Water- or alkali-based paint strippers are less toxic than solvent-based types.