Painting Problems

All paints, solvents, and adhesives contain chemicals that are harmful to wildlife and humans. That is why proper handling and disposal of these products is so important.

Toxic chemicals from liquid or solid products or from cleaning residues or rags may enter the ocean via storm drains.

It is especially important not to clean brushes in an area where paint residue can flow to a street, gutter or storm drain. Once paint residue enters the storm drain system, it flow directly to the ocean.


General Business Practices

  • Keep all construction debris away from the street, gutter and storm drain. Liquid residues from paints, thinners, solvents, glues and cleaning fluids are hazardous wastes. When thoroughly dry, used brushes, rages, drop cloths and empty paint cans (lids off), may be disposed of as trash.

  • Use water-based paints instead of oil-based paints. Look for the words "Latex" or "Clean up with water" on the label.

  • Don't use paints over 15 years old. They may contain toxic levels of lead.

  • Reuse paint thinner. Set used thinner aside in a closed jar to settle out paint particles. Then pour off clear liquid for future use. Wrap the residue in newspaper and dispose of it in the trash.

Paint Removal

  • Chemical paint stripping residue, including saturated rags, is a hazardous waste. For disposal information call the Los Angeles County Household Hazardous Waster Hotline at (800) 552-5218.

  • Chips and dust from marine paints or paints containing lead or tributyl tin are also hazardous wastes. Sweep them up and call the Los Angeles County Household Hazardous Waster Hotline at (800) 552-5218.

  • Paint chips and dust from non-hazardous dry stripping and sand blasting may be swept up and disposed of as trash.

  • When stripping or cleaning building exteriors with high-pressure water, block storm drains. Wash water onto a dirt area. Check with the local wastewater treatment authority to find out if you can collect (mop or vacuum) building cleaning water and drain it to the sewer.

Paint Cleanup

  • Never clean brushes or rinse paint containers into the street, gutter or storm drain.

  • For oil-based paints, paint out brushes to the extent possible. Clean with thinner and then filter and reuse thinner.

  • For water-based paints, paint out brushes to the extent possible, then rinse in the sink when thoroughly dry, used brushes, empty paint cans (lids off), rags and drip cloths may be disposed of as trash.

Paint Recycling

  • Reuse leftover paint for touch-ups or recycle it at a local household hazardous waste collection event, where it will be recycled or donated to a local graffiti paint-out program.

  • Recycle or use up excess paint. Call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste Hotline at (800) 552-5218.