Friday, 19 April 2013

EPA Regulations and Best Management Practices for Paint

With millions gallons of architectural paint being applied at millions of locations each year, it would be impossible for EPA or state environmental agencies to permit or monitor each one. Therefore, the approach taken by EPA to limit VOC emissions from architectural painting operations is to control what goes into the product, rather than to try to control the user. The resulting rules effectively force paint makers to minimize the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in their products. In the regulations, EPA has defined VOC very broadly. In effect, any volatile compound of carbon is classified as a VOC for regulatory purposes, unless specifically “exempted”.  EPA uses is a specific test method, known as Test Method 24, which determines what is to be treated as a VOC.

Best Management Practices 

The BMPs listed below will help reduce or eliminate pollution that could otherwise be generated from painting operations. 

Removing Old Paint
  • Cover or berm nearby storm drain inlets when stripping or cleaning building exteriors with high-pressure water prior to painting. The waste water must not be discharged to the storm drain system. The waste water must be collected, and may be discharged to the sanitary sewer if the building exterior paint does not contain lead or mercury (after 1978, lead was phased out of most architectural paints). If paint containing lead or mercury was used, contact your state environmental agency for information about the appropriate disposal options before beginning work.
  • If grinding or blasting is used to remove old paint, protect nearby storm drain inlets with a protective cover such as a heavy rubber mat. Paint dust, particles, and other debris must be completely cleaned up, preferably by sweeping, after the job is done.
  • Non-hazardous paint chips and dust from dry stripping and sand blasting may be swept up or collected and disposed of as trash. Chemical paint stripping residue, and chips and dust containing lead or tributyl tin, must be disposed of as a hazardous waste.

  • Paint and paint thinner may never be discharged into the storm drain system. In addition, waste water or runoff containing paint or paint thinner may never be discharged into a storm drain.  When there is a risk of a spill reaching the storm drain, nearby storm drain inlets must be protected prior to starting painting.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Keep paint containers closed when not in use.
  • Paintbrushes and containers may never be cleaned or rinsed into a street, gutter, creek, or storm drain.
  • When cleaning brushes and rollers after painting, brush out excess paint onto newspaper or cardboard. If using latex paints, the brush or roller may then be rinsed in a sink that is plumbed to the sanitary sewer. If using oil-based paints, the brush or roller needs to be cleaned with paint thinner which cannot be discharged to the sanitary sewer. Paint thinners must be disposed of as hazardous waste.
  • Leftover paint in the roller pan should be drained back into the paint can. If using paint hoses and guns, spray out the paint residue into the paint can.
  • When the job is completed, collect all unused or waste materials and dispose of properly. Never leave or abandon materials onsite, and ensure that nothing has “drifted” towards the street, gutter, or catch basin.
Recycling/Disposal of Residuals
  • Properly store leftover paint.  Even when you attempt to estimate your needs, there may be paint remaining. If there is enough paint for a smaller job or to save for future touch-ups, close the can tightly to prevent it from drying out. To indicate the color inside, write the location that the color was used or put a dot of paint on the lid of the can. In colder regions, another storage consideration is that latex paints may freeze below a certain temperature.
  • Recycle, return to supplier or donate unwanted water-based (latex) paint. Dried latex paint and empty paint cans may be disposed of in the garbage.
  • Leftover oil-based paint may be recycled or disposed of as hazardous waste. Paint thinners must be disposed of as hazardous waste. 
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