Safe Environment Practices and Procedures

  • Developers
  • Do-It-Yourselfers
  • Dry Wall Crews
  • Floor Covering Installers
  • General Contractors
  • Home Builders
  • Paper Hangers
  • Plasterers
  • Professional Painters

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 liquids, solid products, 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 flows directly to the ocean.


Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as handling, storing, and disposing of materials properly can prevent pollutants from entering the storm drains.

General Business Practices

  • Keep all liquids, paint products and wastes away from the street, gutter and storm drains. Liquid residues from paints, thinners, solvents, glues and cleaning fluids are hazardous wastes and must be disposed of properly. Thoroughly dry used brushes; rags, 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. Dispose of this paint properly.
  • 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 is a hazardous waste. For disposal information call 1-888-CleanLA.
  • Chips and dust from marine paints or paints containing lead or tributyl tin are hazardous wastes. Dry sweep and call the Los Angeles County Sanitation District at 1-888-CleanLA for disposal information.
  • Paint chips and dust from non-hazardous dry stripping and sand blasting may be swept up an disposed of as trash.
  • When stripping or cleaning building exteriors with high-pressure water, block storm drains. Check with the City Public Works Department 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 a street, gutter or storm drain.
  • For water-based paints, paint out brushes as much as possible and rinse in the sink.
  • For oil-based paints, paint out brushes as much as possible. Clean with thinner and then, filter and reuse thinner or solvent.

Recycle or Reuse Leftover Paints

  • Reuse leftover paint for touch-ups or donate it to local graffiti paint-out programs.
  • Recycle or use up excess paint. Call 1-888-Clean LA (888-253-2652) for a list of upcoming hazardous waste roundups.