- Use latex (water-based) paint instead of oil-based paint. Oil-based paints contain a high percentage of solvents which contribute to air pollution. You are exposed to solvent fumes while the oil paint dries.
- Calculate amount needed carefully. Patronize stores that will give you expert help. Many paint stores will take back unopened cans. Ask them.
- Give good left-over paint to a community organization that can use it.
- Use whitewash for barns, basements, and fences instead of paint. (A simple mix of hydrated lime and water-a less-toxic alternative to white paint.)
- Air out newly-painted bedrooms before people sleep there again.
- Clean brushes immediately after use. Wash out latex paint over a sink, not outside, in the gutter.
- Work mechanic's "waterless" hand cleaner into brush and wash with soap and water.
- Clean paint brushes hardened with dried oil-based paint by soaking in hot vinegar.
- Avoid using oil-based paints which require solvent thinners for cleanup.
- Pour off clear thinner for reuse after particles have settled out.
- Wrap particles in newspaper and throw in trash.
Chemical Paint Strippers
- To strip paint, use a heat gun, a paint scraper, or a sanding block with course sandpaper (wear safety goggles and a mask).
- Note: Stripping lead-based paint is dangerous and should be done by a professional. Inhaling the dust or vapors can cause lead poisoning.
- Water-soluble paint strippers are available that contain less-hazardous ingredients.
- Avoid strippers containing methylene chloride and trichloroethylene (TCE); benzene; 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), xylene; or toluene.
- Don't use aerosols. Aerosols make it more likely that the user will breathe in the paint. The aerosol propellants contribute to air pollution.
- Do not use old products which contain pentachlorophenol (PCP), creosote, tributyltin oxide, or Folpet.
- Do not burn wood treated with wood preservatives. You'd be releasing the chemicals into the air. Old, treated, scrap wood can be taken to a landfill for disposal.
- Water-based preservatives are available that can seal wood and protect it from water rot and insects.
- A water sealer or polyurethane can prevent wood rot. Use types of wood (such as redwood and cedar) that are naturally resistant to insects and wood rot.
- Buy "pressure-treated" lumber. Preservatives have already been applied. Eliminates the need to handle wood preservatives and exposure to toxic chemicals.
- Use finishes derived from natural sources, such as shellac, tung oil, and linseed oil.
- Use water-based stains.
- Try the new less-toxic wood working compounds that are becoming available.