Factors that Motivate Owners of Auto Refinish Shop...
Profile of 10 shops who implemented P2 changes. Includes, drivers for change, obstacles and benefit...
Safe Work Practices that Reduce Worker Exposure to...
Outlines auto body shop tasks, safety risks and associated safe work practices and impacts on worker...
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Auto Body: Reasons for Change
Legislation making it unlawful to pollute varies from state to state. High
quality, fast repairs are a priority for staying in business and cost and
time constraints may tempt owners to do the minimum. But preventing pollution
makes good business sense in the long run. It can increase competitive advantage
and save an auto body shop money through:
- Improved public image 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 hazardous waste).
- Reduced waste water disposal and/or treatment costs.
- Reduced liability risks.
- Reduced regulatory paperwork and related costs.
How P2 Can Reduce Operating Costs
Switching to less hazardous products such as low VOC paints and aqueous solvents
reduces disposal costs and regulatory liabilities, not to mention employee
When operated correctly, high-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) spray guns have
notably higher transfer efficiencies (60-70%) than conventional spray guns
(20-30%). When HVLP spray guns are used by effectively trained technicians,
more paint ends up on the car and less is lost as overspray. This efficiency
is a health benefit to painters (who have less contact with toxic paint components)
and to the shop (by saving money on paint and labor costs without sacrificing
Hazardous Waste is Expensive!
A hazardous waste, as defined by the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), is a waste that appears on any one
of four RCRA hazardous waste lists or that exhibits any one of the following
- 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 solvents.
- 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.
Potential Hazardous Wastes in the Autobody Shop
Spent gun cleaning and parts washing solvents can be regulated hazardous
waste if 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 would have to be counted toward an auto body shop's total
monthly generation of regulated hazardous waste.
Off-spec or waste paint may be a regulated hazardous waste because of
toxicity from heavy metals or ignitability from solvent additives.
For more information on hazardous materials and waste, contact the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency at the weblink above. This link has many aspects of all
the RCRA regulated waste issues in an A to Z searchable format.
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 can cause:
- Respiratory sensitization (shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing,
or asthmatic reactions)
- Dermal sensitization (skin irritation or allergic reactions)
- Pulmonary toxicity
- Eye irritation
- Lung toxicity
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 as of January
11, 1999. These regulations affect autobody shops that are not already using
low VOC coatings.
Mineral spirits is a commonly used solvent for gun 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 concerns:
- 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.
If an auto body shop has to manage refrigerants, keep the following in
- 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 and the automotive repair industry: www.epa.gov/ozone/title6/609/
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). www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/smallcompliance.pdf
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