UPDATE: Ecology's new website will be live on Monday morning! Our official web address will be https://ecology.wa.gov

HWTR Pollution Prevention

My Watershed

Pollution Prevention Checklist for Carpentry and Wood Construction Departments

Photo of carpenter's toolbelt.

The Washington Department of Ecology encourages schools and laboratories to find safer alternatives to reduce, or even eliminate the use of toxic substances.

The table below lists common hazardous substances found in carpentry and wood construction departments and preferred alternatives (in bold font), if available. Best management practices that can be used to reduce and prevent toxic wastes are also included.

Throughout all departments there are common issues with proper management of dangerous waste that is generated on site.  The following bullets identify the most common issues and give best management practices (BMPs) for proper identification, accumulation, and disposal of dangerous wastes.

More resources are listed at the bottom of this page.

Download a printable checklist in Word, or pdf.

For more information contact your local Ecology Regional Office.

Items or Processes of Concern Toxic Metal Dangerous Waste Preferred Alternatives and Best Management Practices


  • Use low or no solvent adhesives if possible, such as hot melt, heat seal, aqueous-based, or polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) adhesives.
  • Evaluate your gluing operations to determine if too much is being mixed.


  • Use coatings with the lowest volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants possible.
  • Use coatings that do not have metal-based pigments.
  • Use efficient spray equipment, such as high-volume low-pressure (HVLP), airless, or air-assisted to reduce coating usage.
  • Reuse paint mixing cups and use metal mixing sticks (be sure to clean them before the paint dries).
  • Consider investing in a weight scale to accurately measure paint recipes in the smallest amounts necessary for the job.
  • Use paint leftovers for equipment setup and spray pattern testing.
  • Label and store leftover basecoats. Seal container tightly and store upside-down to prevent air from entering.
  • Apply stains and lacquer with sponge, brush, rag, or roller instead of spray.
  • Apply light color finishing materials first, followed by darker, when possible.

Paint thinner

Paint strippers
  • Use non-chlorinated solvents and thinners.
  • Use methyl alcohol (methanol).
  • Use a spray bottle or plunger can to deliver solvents where they are needed.
  • Segregate solvent wastes, distill, reuse, or dispose of as dangerous waste.
  • Use solvents until they lose their effectiveness, as opposed to when they look dirty.
  • Extend solvent life by filtering solids.
Wood bleaches   X
  • Use two-part bleaches instead of chlorine bleach.
Wood working X X
  • Use non-chlorinated solvents.
  • Implement dust collection system to reduce air emissions and increase equipment life.
  • Keep wood wastes clean and segregated by type to enhance recycling opportunities.
General inventory    
  • Use Environmentally preferable purchasing.
  • Review Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for hazardous substance information.
  • Properly store hazardous substances.
  • Review curriculum for potential hazardous substance reductions.
All generated waste streams

Spilled products

Unused and expired products
  • Use chemical inventory and tracking software to centralize product ordering, improve product tracking, storage requirement, waste management, reduce disposal of expired product, and minimize duplicate orders to prevent unnecessary disposal.
  • Identify all potential waste streams and establish designation procedures to determine if a hazardous waste or non-hazardous waste.
  • Implement dangerous waste designation, collection, accumulation, and disposal procedures for all waste streams.
  • See Common Dangerous Waste Compliance Issues.

Fluorescent lamps

Mercury-containing equipment
  • Use rechargeable batteries.
  • Use LED lamps when appropriate.
  • Use low-mercury fluorescent lamps.
  • Remove and/or replace mercury-containing equipment and manage as Universal Waste.
  • Implement a battery collection program and manage as Universal Waste.
  • Implement a whole-lamp recycling program and manage as Universal Waste.
  • If not recycled as Universal Waste collect, manage, and dispose of as dangerous waste.


This page last updated September 2015