So since regular paint stripper are really horrible and cause cancer and thought to cause reproductive problems in humans and animals alike, we've tried to find other ways to remove paint that were less toxic. I don't think that there are any methods without their disadvantages and health risks, but careful, controlled removal with a respirator can at least be less damaging to one's health.
We used Peel Away to remove paint over tile in our downstairs bathroom (clever previous owners -- not!). It works pretty well and the smell isn't too bad. I'm using it now on the trim in the office, the previous owners painted over dust and chipped off calcimine paint (even in piles in the corners -- unbelievable. How hard is a little prep work?) so I'm trying to make it nicer than it was before (that's the Girl Scout in me). It got off the most recent coat pretty easily but I'm still trying to remove the earlier paint layers.
We also have a heat gun that we use sometimes as well. It works really well on woodwork that was previously varnished as the varnish softens up quickly. It isn't a good choice to use on windows near glass as it is hard to control the heat and I've caused two cracks that way (argh! live and learn and I knew I was being risque).
The office walls, and most of the rest of the house as well, have a base coat of calcimine paint on them. This is a chalk-based paint that they used 100 years ago. It's been painted over throughout the house but the surface is uneven in spots so it needs patching. Since the office is such a tiny room (not even big enough for a twin bed really) I decided to remove the calcimine as that room had so much chipping that the walls would have had to been 65% patched. It's taken a long while but I finished washing all the calcimine off a few weeks ago and now it's just a matter of prepping the woodwork and then I can paint. Here are my tips about removing calcimine covered with latex:
1. wet the wall first with a sponge, and keep it damp by periodically going over it as you work -- this helps soften the latex paint adhesion.
2. scrape off the latex paint
3. wash off the calcimine with a wet sponge
It is time consuming but it works. You can do a search on calcimine paint removal and find lots of different tips.
Here are some links to refer to: