Article

Establishing Graffiti Emissions as a Nonpoint Source Sector

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Abstract

Nationally, the annual cost of monitoring, detecting, removing, and repairing graffiti damage has been estimated as high as $15 to $18 billion. In Clark County, Nevada, it has been estimated that the costs to the public and private sectors are $30 million annually. These significant costs emphasize the importance of educating young people about the consequences of graffiti. Yet noticeably missing from many graffiti education campaigns is detailed discussion about the impact graffiti has on air quality. In 1994, former EPA Deputy Administrator, Alvin Alm, observed that the United States was ―. . . nurturing a new generation that has much more knowledge and a different ethic about the relationship of man to the environment . . . .‖ That environmental ethic is arguably even more focused today as we learn about the serious consequences of climate change. Within Clark County, it has been estimated that volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from graffiti can be greater than emissions from several nonpoint sectors typically tracked by EPA. In 2008, an estimated 31 tons were emitted within Clark County, and 4,862 tons nationwide. By including graffiti-related emissions in EPA's triennial effort to establish a national emissions inventory, policymakers would be in a better position to understand graffiti's impact on air quality. To achieve that purpose, this paper proposes a unique set of source classification codes (SCCs) for emissions proximally related to the actual act of graffiti, and methodologies for estimating those emissions. Collectively, these SCCs constitute the graffiti nonpoint sector.

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... Graffiti also has environmental consequences since the aerosol sprays used emit anthropogenic VOCs [46]. Since emissions related to graffiti are primarily VOC-based, the creation of these markings contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone. ...
... Since emissions related to graffiti are primarily VOC-based, the creation of these markings contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone. For example, it was estimated that during 2008 approximately 5000 tons of VOCs were emitted from the graffiti sector in US [46]. Tree bark is a fundamental source of traditional pharmacopoeia [47], and clearly painting tree bark makes it unusable for therapeutic purposes [47]. ...
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Mature trees play a fundamental role in nature and are crucial to maintaining good air quality in the urban ecosystem where they reduce air pollution, lower the surface temperature, and emit medicinal volatile organic compounds which combine to improve human health and mental wellbeing. From an aesthetic and cultural point of view, they are true living monuments to be preserved. In both rural and city environments, it takes numerous years for trees to become mature enough to have a significant impact on our health and the current global climate changes together with high levels of pollution in urban environments and other anthropic factors such as vandalism constitute important obstacles to new tree growth. This clearly makes existing trees, especially old growth, far more valuable than we often realize. Regardless of their artistic quality and in some instances their positive messages, graffiti are still unacceptable on living organisms, especially older urban trees. They also have a significant environmental impact due to the emissions related to graffiti that are primarily based on anthropogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone. We reviewed the literature on graffiti and paintings applied on tree bark and ultimately found that oil-based paints in particular can damage tree life support systems. We herein also discuss graffiti prevention, the potential impact on human health related with graffiti removal, as well as methods for tree bark cleaning including, as suggested by different urban forestry specialists, the application of citrus-based products for 20–60 min before rubbing and rinsing or multiple 1–2 h treatments, in the case of recent or old graffiti, respectively.
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