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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

EPA Demonstrates Innovative Graffiti Removal Products in San Francisco


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Project Description

This project aims to develop safer methods to reduce graffiti through safer removers and graffiti resistant paints and coatings.

The Institute for Research and Technical Assistance (IRTA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the use of hazardous chemicals, with an emphasis on solvents. They focus on identifying, developing, testing and demonstrating safer alternatives in a variety of applications.  IRTA has found low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound), low toxicity alternatives for solvent based products in dry cleaning, cleaning of all kinds, paint stripping, coatings, adhesives and lubricants.

Graffiti is a significant problem for many cities, counties and others. Graffiti management is generally extremely costly.  Many of the graffiti removers and graffiti resistant paints used today are high in high-VOCs and toxic solvents, which pose health and environmental problems.  A number of abrasive methods used today to remove graffiti create secondary wastes that must be disposed of safely.  The frequent and repeated use of paints to cover over graffiti leads to high emissions of VOCs and toxic compounds

Smog, which is formed from VOCs, has been linked to lung disease. The toxic components in graffiti removers have been associated with reproductive and developmental problems and may aggravate asthma.  IRTA will focus on finding alternative methods for a range of surfaces and varied graffiti tools such as aerosol paints, pens, crayons and markers.  The safer graffiti reduction methods developed during this project will minimize damage to the environment through a reduction in VOC emissions and will reduce the toxic threat to workers and community members. 

This project will focus on developing, testing and demonstrating safer low-VOC, low toxicity graffiti removers, graffiti resistant paints, covering paints and abrasive methods. They have city, test sites in Northern and Southern California.  IRTA is collaborating will several jurisdictions and utilities to test promising alternatives and methods.  The project partners will evaluate the effectiveness, cost, environmental and worker impact of the alternatives. The partners included are the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, The Port of San Francisco, The City of San Francisco and The City of Simi Valley.  EPA, the partners and IRTA will distribute the results of the project widely.

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