Pollution Prevention Auto Body Shops Topic Hub - Operations
The primary pollutants
of concern are:
- volatile organic
compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air emissions (HAPs) emitted during painting
- hazardous wastes
generated from solvents, thinners, and metal-based paints
- dust emitted
during sanding operations
Before painting, the vehicle must be prepped. This might include: removing
old paint by sanding or chemicals; the use of fillers; mixing new paint;
removing dirt, dust, etc.; and minor mechanical procedures. Wastes here
By keeping work areas clean and free of filler and sanding dusts, an auto
body shop can prevent pollution and reduce the amount of time spent cleaning
up and redoing paint jobs. This can be accomplished by:
- Leftover filler materials
- Dust (may contain heavy metals)
- Masking materials
- Spilled paint (may contain heavy metals)
- Spilled thinners/solvents (may be ignitable and/or toxic)
- Leftover paint/solvents/thinners
- Spilled or leaking automotive fluids (used oil, antifreeze, refrigerant,
- Mixing and using body filler according to container directions.
- Wearing respiratory protection.
- Avoiding metal surface cleaning solvents, especially those based on
methyl ethyl ketone and chlorinated compounds (check MSDS).
- Installing a central vacuum system to catch dust during sanding operations.
- Using a broom or vacuum instead of water to clean up body repair and
paint preparation waste.
Once the vehicle is ready to be painted, the next step is to select the
type of coating material and application method to be used. The application
of paint can generate a large amount of waste due to poor paint transfer
efficiency and the type of coating materials selected. Typical waste from
this step may include:
- VOCs and HAPs from applied materials. Topcoat applications
release approximately 55% of the VOCs emitted during the refinishing
process. The high volume of VOCs released in this step can be reduced
by increasing transfer efficiency. This can be accomplished through
training of painters and proper use of HVLP spray equipment.
- Over-sprayed paint. Over half of the topcoat material can be
lost as overspray. Improper application techniques waste paint and money.
Paint commonly used in spray booths may be hazardous because of its
ignitability and because of its contents: heavy metals (lead and chromium),
polyisocyanates, and liquid organic solvents. Auto body workers may
develop nervous system disorders, skin and eye irritation, respiratory
sensitization, asthma and reduced lung function from exposure to paint.
- Unused surplus paints from over-purchasing or past expiration dates.
By purchasing only as much as needed a shop can reduce spoilage of expired
materials, save storage space, and encourage wise use of materials.
Equipment cleaning is required when a painting process is completed,
changing colors, or during regular maintenance. Typical waste from this
step may include:
- Waste or surplus paint (may contain heavy metals)
- Used paint thinners (may be ignitable and/or toxic)
- Waste masking materials and tape
- Rags/towels (may be ignitable due to solvent or paint residue)
- Empty containers
- Paint booth filters (may contain heavy metals from paint pigments)
- Used safety and personal protective equipment (such as gloves and
- VOCs - Paint equipment cleaning contributes approximately 20% of the
VOCs released during the refinishing process. (Source:
Pollution Prevention Guides for Auto Body Shops - http://peakstoprairies.org/p2bande/autobody/abguide/fs5.cfm)
Some shops perform minor automotive service and repair. Most of the wastes
generated can be reused and/or recycled on- or off-site. Here is a brief list
of wastes generated in this process (for more information, please refer to the
P2Rx Automotive Repair Hub): glass, metal , plastics, used tires, automotive
fluids (antifreeze, used oil, gasoline, diesel, etc.), used batteries.
As with any small business, routine operations contribute to a shop's waste
streams. Wastes associated with these routine processes include:
- Office supplies (printer, copier, and fax paper, colored paper, paper cups,
- General packaging waste (wrappers, boxes, etc.)
- Water (toilets, sinks, showers, etc.)
- Energy (electronics and electrical equipment, lighting, etc.)
- Leaking or spilled materials
- If improperly managed, the wastes discussed above can pose a serious threat
to the health and safety of the shop's employees, damage the environment,
or endanger the community.
- Hazardous materials and wastes can cause cancer, nervous system damage,
explosions, and air and water pollution.
- All employees should know what materials and equipment are used in their
shop and where the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) are located.
- All employees should know what can and cannot be reused or recycled, and
what can and cannot go down the drain or in the trash can.
(Source: OSHA's Autobody Repair and Finishing
Hub Last Updated:
The P2Rx Topic Hub Project was developed by:
The Auto Body Topic Hub was developed by:
Peaks to Prairies
Contact Laura Estes (Peaks)
406-994-3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org
With assistance from:
Western Regional Pollution Prevention Network
Contact Isao Kobashi (WRPPN)
408-566-4560 or isao.kobashi@pln.CO.Santa-Clara.CA.US