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Are you still working with DCM?

If you want me to stop banging the DCM-free drum, says Rachael Morgan, then make the switch if you haven’t already done so.

STILL working with DCM? I thought you’d all be sick of hearing me banging the DCM-free drum and would have made the switch by now! Well okay then, let’s start today from a different angle and start talking about how to protect your customer or the homeowner.

It’s highly unlikely they know the risks you’re exposing them to as well as their families when you bring a DCM adhesive into their home.

First, I wonder how you might feel if a tradesperson brought such a product into your home and maybe that’s a bigger question we should ask the wider trade. But for today before you make the switch rather than asking the customer to suit up in the required PPE, here’s some advice and simple steps to follow when you work with DCM. I urge you to follow them to keep your customers safe:

  • Segregate your workspace and ensure there’s adequate ventilation
  • Ask the customer not to come into a room while you’re working or directly after. Allow access only to those who understand the risk or who are appropriately trained and wearing PPE
  • Ventilate the room before allowing the customer back into the room, open a window or use an extraction system for at least 15 minutes. For your own safety avoid working in poorly ventilated areas such as bathrooms, cellars, stairwells without ventilation
  • Advise the customer not to allow pets or small children in a room for 12 hours after installation as fumes can take time to disperse and remain at ground level for prolonged periods
  • Don’t eat and drink in the room you’re working in and advise the customer not to do so either. If the room you’ve fitted is a kitchen advise they clean surfaces after installation as DCM can be absorbed through the skin.

In a recent survey conducted by Gekko Adhesives, 8% of respondents hadn’t heard of dichloromethane, and knew nothing or little of the risks and how to identify such a product.

So, if you fall in this 8% and aren’t sure what’s inside the product you’re using, here are some simple ways to identify a chlorinated adhesive:

In the safety section there’ll be Hazard code H351: Suspected of causing cancer. There will be the words: DANGER contains dichloromethane or methylene chloride. The can will have a pictogram displayed which is a red diamond with a person with an exploding chest inside.

Be aware that safety information is most often located on the reverse of the can. If you’re unsure about the product you’re using request an SDS from your distributor or directly from the manufacturer.

Section 2 will show you hazard indications and section 8 will show PPE and exposure controls. If you need additional assistance with reading an SDS contact me at – I’m happy to help.

Now you know how to identify a chlorinated adhesive and how to protect your customer here are a few reminders of things you should know about DCM or dichloromethane to help protect yourself:

  • DCM is a highly volatile solvent. Small volumes will readily give off large amounts of vapour, even at room temperature
  • DCM vapour is colourless with a low odour so you may be unaware you are at serious risk
  • DCM vapour is heavier than air and will therefore tend to accumulate at lower levels in the workplace
  • Dichloromethane is an almost odourless solvent which means you could be breathing it in and you wouldn’t even know until you develop physical side effects
  • The main route of exposure to humans is inhalation, breathing in the vapour
  • Exposures are highest in occupational settings
  • DCM is carcinogenic and as such carries the hazard statement ‘suspected of causing cancer’
  • DCM can also be absorbed through the skin. DCM can burn the skin, or cause irritation leading to dermatitis
  • DCM can irritate and burn the eyes
  • Common side effects include headaches, skin rashes, dizziness, coughing or wheezing, blurred vision, kidney problems and even cancer.

It’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you’re concerned about any side affects you might be experiencing when using a chlorinated adhesive.

You probably considered your job as being fairly low risk before you read this article but some of the most dangerous risks are those you can’t even see or those in this case hiding in plain sight – I urge you not to switch off to the risks surrounding dichloromethane. Please don’t think ‘it won’t affect me’, ‘it’s too late for me to change’, or ‘I like the buzz’.

Switch your mindset and your sprayable adhesive today. There’s a better, safer, less hazardous way to spray and there’s no longer an excuse to not make the switch as there’s a DCM-free alternative available in almost every flooring distribution trade counter across the UK.

There are numerous brands, grades, and even adhesive types. There IS a DCM-free adhesive for you!
Rachael Morgan is category manager, Gekko Adhesives

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