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Paintbrush Pique

May 19, 1991

I was appalled by the environmental insensitivity expressed in the column by A. J. Hand on the subject of cleaning paint rollers ("Getting on a Roll When Tackling a Paint Job," April 7). Near the end of the column, the author recommends cleaning the paint rollers outdoors with a garden hose for both water- and oil-based paints.

This practice would be patently unsafe in any environmental plan to diminish pollution. Even in a diluted state, all types of paints must be classed as hazardous waste. Disposing of any paint by pouring it onto the ground, including washing of brushes outdoors, is risking ground water contamination.

The correct advice is: clean paintbrushes safely. Don't wash them outside--the paint will threaten ground water supplies. If you're on a sewer system, rinse them in the sink; the waste will go to a treatment facility. Use latex paint instead of oil-based paint wherever possible. Pigment in oil-based paint is often made with heavy metals like cadmium and titanium dioxide--toxic substances--and even letting oil-based paints evaporate pollutes the atmosphere. If you must use them, keep the lids on tight and dispose of them in certified toxic waste dumps.

LINDA J. GUAGLIANO

Los Angeles

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