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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Studio safety ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-05-10 15:00:04 ... Most recent comment 2018-08-08 00:00:01
    Health and Safety

    ​This may be redundant, I didn’t see too much on it here though.  My question is about waste management. I’m an oil painter, so paint including lead white, and mineral spirits are my concerns. I have not painted for about two years because I am a hypochondriac, and my current studio space is a basement apartment. I am trying to get over it, and have been trying to find some clarity. I live in Utah, and I actually contacted my state office of solid and hazardous waste, and explained what I was doing, the waste I was generating and an estimate at the quantity. They  indicated to me that even though I was engaged in activities for profit, my residential status and volume would allow disposal into the municipal waste stream. I also contacted my local transfer station, and they will accept up to 5 gallons of waste at a time for 8$, which is very reasonable. My problem is safe storage. In a day, I might generate 3 or 4 paper towels with a few milliliters worth of paint, and some mineral spirits stained areas. For final brush cleaning I will use two small bowls of water and wipe the waste out on a paper towel so as not to have it go down the drain.  I am storing these materials for a week or two in a justrite oily waste can until I take it to the transfer station, how safe is this given my living environment? Does solvent evaporate out of those cans? Am I trapping volatile compounds and releasing them every time I open it? The can says empty every night which makes no sense. I am not opposed to “solvent free” however large quantities of drying or vegetable oil on rags still present a combustion risk. And varnishing procedures are not accomplished without use of solvent. So I can’t entirely get away from solvent. I am also curious what artists were doing with waste throughout history. There were thousands of artists working in Paris in th 19th century. Where did all their painting rags go? Anyway I apologize for my neurosis I just want to keep working, but my anxiety makes me think that I’m storing waste that will explode into flames at any moment.                                                                                 

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​You are not unfounded in your concerns about flammability...which is why we included some information about this issue in our Health and Safety document located in the Resources section which you can find here. Give it a quick read and let us know if you have additional questions!

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-05-10 15:16:22
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​I know for liability sake you can’t offer asssurances on any methods. I read through the safety document again and have tried to formulate something I’m comfortable with, and able to execute in an apartment. I have a red oily waste can, inside, mason jars that I slowly fill with my paper towel waste, and water. My only question is if I also have mineral spirits on the paper towels, do I need to allow that to evaporate, or can mineral spirits rags  be submerged in water as well. These jars will ultimately be taken to my local transfer station as hazardous waste. 

    2018-07-30 20:04:25
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​It is probably best to submerge any rags that have come into contact with oil or solvents (in water that is).

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-07-30 21:23:27
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​So just  to be very clear, paper towels/rags recently wet with solvent can be immediately submerged in water while still wet with solvent  without any significant consequences? I just don’t know much about chemistry like that. 

    2018-07-30 21:30:31
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Yes there is nothing "physically" dangerous about doing so (they will likely float to the surface of the water in the enclosed mason jar but as long as it is sealed it should be no problem).

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-07-30 22:04:36
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​would the same idea work with ziploc freezer bags? For the sake of space, weight and cost. Or would any small amounts of solvent present  eventually eat through the plastic. 

    2018-08-07 19:20:16
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    It appears that zip-lock freezer bags are made from polypropylene. A check on its solvent sensitivity indicates that it is moderately sensitive to mineral spirits, B = Good, Minor Effect, slight corrosion or discoloration. It is strongly effected by turpentine, D = Severe Effect, not recommended for ANY use.

    However, even if you only stored the most refined, non-aromatic solvent, I would not trust that system for non-frozen liquids, and never for the solvents used in oil paintingx.

    Brian Baade
    2018-08-07 23:04:19
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Brian I appreciate your time. I’m not trying to store liquid solvent in the bags, just any small amount that would be left on the paper towels after brush cleaning.  I’m fine sticking with the glass mason jars, I just feel like my attempt at some submersion containment system could be better. I’m essentially to the point where I’m just weighing my paper towels  down in the jars with small rocks so I can keep filling the jar over the course of a week or so to get the most out of it. It feels like a dumb, archaic type of system. But I suppose the only alternative is a larger version of that that I couldn’t store or even lift to transport after awhile. Unfortunately most of my painter friends have zero containment procedures, so I’m kind of striking out on my own here. 

    2018-08-08 00:00:01

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