The use of heavy metals in paint has raised concerns due to their toxicity at high levels of exposure and since they build up in the food chain.
Another harmful material that can be found in paint is lead. Lead is normally added to paint to speed drying, increase durability, retain a fresh appearance, and resist moisture that causes corrosion. Paint with significant lead content is still used in the industry and by the military. For example, leaded paint is sometimes used to paint roadways and parking lot lines. Lead, a poisonous metal, can damage nerve connections (especially in young children) and cause blood and brain disorders. Because of lead's low reactivity and solubility, lead poisoning usually only occurs in cases when it is dispersed, such as when sanding lead-based paint prior to repainting.
Primer paint containing hexavalent chromium is still widely used for aerospace and automobile refinishing applications, too. Zinc chromate has been used as a pigment for artists' paint, known as zinc yellow or yellow 36. It is highly toxic and fortunately now rarely used.
Antifouling paint (or bottom paint) is used to protect the hulls of boats from fouling by marine organisms. Antifouling paint protects the surface from corrosion and prevents drag on the ship from any build-up of marine organisms. These paints have contained organotin compounds such as tributyltin, which are considered to be toxic chemicals with negative effects on humans and the environment. Tributyltin compounds are moderately to highly persistent organic pollutants that bioconcentrate up the marine predators' food chain. One common example is it leaching from marine paints into the aquatic environment, causing irreversible damage to the aquatic life. Tributyltin has also been linked to obesity in humans, as it triggers genes that cause the growth of fat cells.
The label of an oil-based paint will say "oil-based" or "alkyd," or it will instruct you to clean brushes with mineral spirits or turpentine. Paints of this type are toxic and they can cause great damage to the environment (including humans and animals) if not disposed of properly.
Latex or water-based paint, on the other hand, is not consider hazardous waste and it can enjoy many reincarnations after its initial use. Latex paints are those that clean up with soap and water. They're very common for both interior and exterior painting. However, even this type of panit needs to be proper disposed of or recycled. Specifically, it is not advisable to pour latex paint into drains, onto the ground, or into creeks, streams or rivers. Disposing of paint this way introduces contaminants into the air, soil and ground water that can eventually work their way into the food chain.
When considering how to dispose of large quantities of unused paint, always ask for professional advice. Any reputable hazardous waste disposal service will be able to assist you.
Here are some measures you can take to reduce environmental impact of you paint consume.
1. Choose a low VOCs paint if possible
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases emitted by various solids or liquids, many of which have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Solvents in traditional paints often contain high quantities of VOCs. Low VOC paints can improve indoor air quality and reduce urban smog. The beneficial characteristics of such paints include low odour, clean air, and safer technology, as well as excellent durability and a washable finish. Low-VOC paint types include latex (water-based), recycled latex (water-based), acrylic, and milk paint.
The labels of paint cans can be checked for the following information:
To be considered low-VOC, the paint should contain <50 g/l of VOC.
To be considered zero-VOC, the paint should contain <5 g/l of VOC.
Solid content usually ranges from 25-45%, higher solid percentages indicate less VOCs
2. Avoid overbuying paint
Each year, 10 percent of the paint sold in the UK is thrown simply because too much has been purchased for every single project. You can avoid that mistake by using an o paint calculator to help you pinpoint how much paint your project really needs.
3. Reuse your paint
If stored properly, paint will last for years. In order to store it properly you should
- Cover the opening of the paint can with plastic wrap.
- Put the lid on securely and make sure it doesn't leak.
- Turn the can upside down to allow the paint to create its own seal.
- Store the can upside down in a place that's safe from freezing and out of reach of children and pets.
4. Recycle your unused paint
The best way to handle leftover paint (after avoiding over buying) is finding someone else who can reuse your leftovers. Try to be imaginative-local councils, schools, universities and art academies, they may all be happy to use some of your old paint for their projects.
Unused paint an also be recycled it to make low-quality paint. Latex sludge can be retrieved and used as fillers in other industrial products. Waste solvents can be recovered and used as fuels for other industries. A clean paint container can be reused or sent to the local landfill.
If your large quantity of paint can't be reused or recycle, then it's a good idea to call a professional chemical waste disposal service.