Many of the paints and substances used for graffiti are toxic, to both the graffitists and the environment. Even more damaging are the substances often used to remove graffiti. If these substances are not used carefully, they can cause considerable environmental damage to our waterways.
Early removal of graffiti is recommended to discourage offenders and to minimise the hardening of the substance used. Paints are more easily removed within the first 72 hours after application. If you don't know what the substance is, use the precautionary principle and assume that it is hazardous.
The two basic methods used to remove graffiti are chemical and abrasive.
Chemical methods include natural cleaners, petroleum-based solvents and paint strippers. Use potent chlorinated solvents only in open-air locations or when wearing an appropriate breathing apparatus.
Aerosol paints are the most difficult to remove. Other substances such as felt tip markers, crayons, ordinary paint (both water- and solvent-based), lipstick and shoe polish can also be encountered. Some can be removed with detergent and water; paints may need solvents recommended by paint manufacturers.
Whatever you use you must prevent the runoff from polluting the environment. Contact the Master Painters Australia NSW Association Inc for further information on procedures for working with graffiti.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011