Pollution Prevention For Auto Body Shops Topic Hub - Reasons For Change
Auto Body: Reasons for Change
Preventing pollution makes good business sense because it can save an
auto body shop money through:
- Improved product and service quality (happier and healthier employees
work more efficiently and take more pride in their work).
- Reduced inventory costs by using fewer raw materials.
- Reduced waste disposal costs (especially if shop has hazardous waste
to dispose of properly).
- Reduced waste water disposal and/or treatment costs.
- Reduced liability risks.
- Reduced regulatory paperwork and related costs.
- Increased competitive advantage.
And by preventing pollution an auto body shop can:
- Reach regulatory compliance with local, state, and federal rules and
- Protect public health and the environment, and safeguard the health
and safety of employees.
- Enhance its public image.
A hazardous waste, as defined by the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (RCRA), is a waste that appears on any one of four lists
of hazardous wastes contained in RCRA or if it exhibits any one of the
- Ignitable - A liquid with a flash point below 140 degrees
F; a non-liquid capable of causing fire through friction, absorption
of moisture, or spontaneous chemical changes; and/or a flammable
compressed gas. An example would be mineral spirits.
- Corrosive - An aqueous-based liquid with a pH less than
or equal to 2.0 (strong acid) or a pH great than or equal to 12.5
(strong base). Examples include battery acid and alkaline cleaning
- Reactive - Wastes that are unstable or undergo violent
chemical reactions when combined with water or other materials.
An example would be hydrogen sulfide.
- Toxic - A waste that contains metals or organic compounds.
An example would be certain hot tank wastes containing high levels
of lead, silver, or other metal.
- For more information on hazardous materials and waste, contact
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or visit http://www.ecy.wa.gov/biblio/92br16.html.
Diisocyanates, found in automotive finishes, are a serious health
concern. Auto refinishers who have become sensitized to diisocyanates
risk serious harm, if they use diisocyanate-containing materials
without adequate protective equipment. In humans, diisocyanates
- Respiratory sensitization (shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing,
or asthmatic reactions)
- Dermal sensitization (skin irritation or allergic reactions)
- Pulmonary toxicity
- Eye irritation
- Lung toxicity
As of January 11, 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) requires that all coatings manufactured in or imported into
the United States for auto body refinishing meet specific limits
on volatile organic compound (VOC) content. These regulations affect
almost all auto body shops in the United States that are not already
using low VOC coatings.
Mineral spirits is a commonly used solvent for gun cleaning and
parts cleaning because of its ability to quickly dissolve paint,
oil, grease, dirt, and grime. Although it is effective for cleaning,
mineral spirits raise significant environmental and human health
- Mineral spirits contain VOCs that contribute to smog formation
and may be toxic when inhaled.
- Mineral spirits evaporate quickly, making worker exposure difficult
- Solvent cleaning units can be a facility's greatest source of
hazardous waste if not used properly.
- Using mineral solvents can create unnecessary environmental,
worker health, and fire liabilities for an auto body shop.
- Minimize costs and regulatory liabilities by switching to less
hazardous products, such as aqueous solutions. (Source:
U.S. EPA Region 9 Aqueous Parts Cleaning - http://www.epa.gov/region09/cross_pr/p2/autofleet/fleetclean.pdf
Spent gun cleaning and parts washing solvents can become regulated
hazardous waste because they exhibit hazardous characteristics such
as: corrosivity, low flash points, and/or because they contain more
than 10% F-listed solvents such as 1,1,1-trichloroethane or perchloroethylene.
Paint stripping and sanding operations may generate regulated hazardous
waste if the paint has a high metals content (this is common in
older and military vehicles), and/or if any solvents used in stripping
are hazardous (they often contain F-listed solvents such as methylene
chloride). These types of wastes may become a hazardous waste and
therefore would have to be counted toward an auto body shop's total
monthly generation of regulated hazardous waste.
Off-spec or waste paint may become a regulated hazardous waste
because of toxicity from heavy metals or ignitability from solvent
additives. Water-based paints can be less hazardous and may help
reduce VOC emissions.
The EPA has determined that the discharge of commercial wastewater
(other than from toilets, showers, etc.) is prohibited without a
permit. Septic systems, cesspools, sumps, and floor drains are considered
Class V Injection Wells and are regulated by the EPA (40 CFR Parts
144 and 146).
When operated correctly, high-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) spray
guns have notably higher transfer efficiencies (60-70%) than conventional
spray guns (20-30%). This means that with HVLP spray guns, more
paint ends up on the car and less is lost as overspray. This efficiency
is a great benefit to painters, who have less contact with toxic
paint components, and the shop, which saves many dollars in paint
If an auto body shop has to manage refrigerants, keep the following
- It is illegal to vent chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons
(HCFCs) into the atmosphere.
- Federal regulations require that CFC-12 and HCFCs be recycled.
However, it is not illegal to use in-stock, recycled, or remanufactured
stocks of these chemicals.
- All facilities servicing motor vehicle air conditioning systems
must certify to EPA that they have acquired and are properly using
approved CFC or HCFC recycling equipment.
- EPA requires that facilities with refrigerant recycling equipment
keep records of the name and address of the facility to which
any refrigerant is sent for reclamation. These records must be
kept for three years. The facility must also have records showing
that all persons authorized to operate any recycling equipment
are currently certified.
For more information on CFCs, refer to the Clean
Air Act of 1990 - http://www.epa.gov/oar/oaqps/peg_caa/pegcaain.htm
A family-owned auto body repair shop employing 17 people saved $4,800
a year by using a distillation unit to reclaim spent paint thinner on-site.
The payback period for the distillation unit was less than one year. The
amount of thinner sent off-site for treatment or disposal decreased by
80%. The owner of this company believes that improvements made due to
environmental issues resulted in safer working conditions for his employees.
This in turn led to higher quality work and greater efficiency, which
has attracted more business.
(Source: University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension,
A Tool Kit For Autobody Repair Shops - http://www.p2pays.org/ref/03/02323.pdf)
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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