By Jessica Vasquez
As early as the 1960s, Ford Motor Company began dumping paint sludge in various locations of New Jersey such as Ringwood and Mahwah; the dumping was not done in approved landfills. This would seem like an act of improper waste disposal, but little else to the common person who knows little about the chemicals in such a by-product. For the Ramapoughs, this knowledge came when citizens became severely ill after their homes were surrounded by dump sites. Children experienced nose bleeds after playing where dumping had taken place. As rain washed over these dump sites, chemicals reached the local rivers, a vital source of water to the people. By ingesting the chemicals this way, some residents suffered from various cancers resulting in death. We can only hope that something like this will not be tolerated in the future and everyone will play a part in preventing such problems.
It must be made clear that such a tragic act was preventable and anyone who uses paint should know how to properly dispose of unused paint. There is a right and wrong way to dispose of left-over paint. For example, paint should never be dumped down a drain or simply thrown in the garbage. This could lead to hazardous chemicals in the paint such as lead, arsenic and xylems to leach into water supply and eventually enter consumers’ systems, resulting in severe health issues.
To prevent chemical pollution and serious health risk always use up all the paint you have. Apply an extra coat to the project you are working on, add color to that dark and bland space in your closet or cabinets, or even donate your left-over paint to a community group such as a local theatre. Don’t think you have enough to complete an extra project or cannot find a group or person who could use the paint? If you only have an inch or two left in the paint can, the paint can be poured into a plastic or paper bag to dry layer by layer. The can should then be recycled. This can also be done by simply leaving the lid off and letting the paint evaporate on its own time, which could take a couple weeks depending on how much is left.
Remember, the first step to preventing an abundance of left over paint is to measure the surface you plan to paint and ask for the appropriate amount from the associate at your local hardware store. After each paint job, wipe excess paint from the brush or roller onto newspaper to dry and be thrown away. Rinse brushes and rollers at an interior sink so the residue will be treated at a sewage plant. Keeping these simple tips in mind will let you do your part in preventing harmful paint chemicals from entering the environment and ultimately someone’s body.