For the first time in over 30 years, the EPA adds to its list of hazardous air pollutants

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to add a powerful dry-cleaning solvent, 1-bromopropane, to its list of hazardous air pollutants was long overdue, environmentalists and industry officials say. Researchers, bureaucrats and even many chemical makers have viewed it for years as a dangerous airborne pollutant suspected to damage nerves and cause cancer.

Yet it took a decade of prodding to prompt EPA officials to register it as a hazardous air toxic. The final rule was announced in a notice published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. The designation allows the agency to set limits on emissions of the solvent, valued by dry cleaners, auto shops and other businesses for its ability to treat dirty fabrics and greasy metal parts.

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe – Safer Degreasing Products

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The job is to repair, and tune cars and trucks. Keeping these vehicles running requires the use of an engine degreaser or brake cleaner to remove grease and grime so the mechanics can identify issues and make repairs. Unfortunately, most brake cleaners contain chemicals that are harmful to human health and the environment, and identifying economical safer products within the local supply chain is challenging.

These sites tested various blends of acetone, heptane, hydrocarbons as replacements for more hazardous blends containing xylene, toluene, PERC, TCE and methanol. The safer products were sourced from local Auto Value, Napa and O’Reilly Auto Parts stores. After identifying a working product, the auto shops were given a case of the product to continue testing it to ensure that it met cleaning expectations.

Ultrasonic Aqueous Parts Cleaning in Auto Repair

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In October 2020, PPRC conducted an EcoBiz certification visit with Autobahn Motorwerks (Autobahn). Among several best practices in place, EcoBiz learned of their replacement of a solvent parts washer with an ultrasonic system, utilizing an EPA Safer Choice all-purpose cleaner. PPRC discovered that these ultrasonic cleaners are commonly used by jewelry makers and laboratories, but are becoming popular for auto repair shops, due to excellent cleaning performance and avoidance of solvents. A 30 liter (30L) unit seems suitable for throughput typical of smaller shops (under 10 employees), and 100L may be a better size for larger auto shops.

During an EcoBiz certification at another auto shop in Oregon, PPRC found they were interested in ultrasonic cleaning as well, especially because of staff sensitivity to some solvents. They periodically used non-chlorinated aerosol cleaners for parts cleaning, and for larger-part cleaning jobs, would send out an entire part for cleaning. They purchased a 30L ultrasonic unit and are trialing two non-hazardous aqueous cleaners. Both shops are pleased with ultrasonic cleaning and eliminating solvents for parts washing.

Tips, best practices for use, brief success stories, and cost benefit analyses are presented below.

Webinar: Waterborne Paint is The Future: Transition From Solvents Today

Thu, Dec 5, 2019 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM CST
Register here.

Join PPRC as collision repair shop managers and painters discuss the economics, permitting and other advantages of switching to water-borne automotive coatings.

There will be a question and answer period following the presentations or discussion, and to be respectful of everyone’s time the Q&A will be posted on the website for later reference.

This webinar is brought to you by the PPRC, with funding through the Washington State Department of Ecology

Technical High Auto Repair & Collision Shops Switch to Safer Products

Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough, Mass., received two grants from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Toxics Use Reduction Institute to reduce the use of solvents in the auto repair and collision shops. The auto collision shop is now using a water-based paint gun cleaner and the auto repair shop is using a bio-based system for cleaning parts. Both products eliminated the use of solvents.

ChemTRAC: Pollution prevention in the Greater Toronto Area

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With the growing production of new chemical substances, the automotive refinishing sector in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has evolved over the past decade.

The facilities within the automotive refinishing sector generate waste and emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and fine particulate matter, such as dust and nitrogen oxides (NO x ). These pollutants can be released to the environment and can potentially cause adverse health effects to workers and the surrounding community.

The automotive refinishing sector within the GTA has experienced challenges in diverging from traditional practices and in identifying key priority chemicals used in the industry.

To address these continued challenges, Toronto Public Health collaborated with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to promote the ChemTRAC pollution prevention (P2) program. The main objectives of the P2 effort were to engage with facilities; increase public awareness through the reporting of the use and release of chemicals; reduce the use of priority chemicals; potentially improve the health and safety of employees, the environment and community; minimize waste and assist facilities in implementing sustainable practices.

Spray Paint Efficiency Training to be offered in Indianapolis on August 23

This training will help painters and managers in any kind of paint shop save money and protect worker health.

Participants will learn how to reduce paint material costs, save money, improve air quality, and meet environmental standards. Participants also receive a five year 6H Certification as well as an understanding of NESHAP and 6H surface coating regulations.

A virtual paint booth will be utilized to improve technique.

This workshop is for painters and paint shop managers of all kinds and sizes—from collision repair and auto shops to industrial paint shops and fleet management facilities. The training is in English, but Spanish language services are available.

Upon completing the training, painters improve their spray efficiency by an average of 20 percent. For most shops, this improvement makes a significant difference. In 2014 PPRC’s spray efficiency program saved businesses over one million dollars in material and other costs as well as preventing over 18,000 pounds of air emissions. An average shop of 10 painters can expect VOC reductions of about 2600 pounds and annual savings of 5,000 to 50,000 dollars.

The head trainer, Ken Grimm, has provided train-the-trainer courses to more than two dozen Community and Technical Colleges in the Pacific Northwest, as well as training to more than 150 collision repair shops and industrial facilities.

Two sessions are offered: an afternoon session from noon to 4:00 p.m. EDT (registration and lunch at 11:30 a.m.); and an evening session from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. EDT (registration at 4:00 p.m and dinner at 6:00 p.m.)

Both sessions will be held at:

Speak Easy Downtown
47 South Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN


Registration fee is $130 per person for each session. Registration deadline is August 20, 2018.

This training event is being offered through funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) through the collaboration of P2Rx centers facilitated by the Environmental Sustainability Resource Center (ESRC) and the Great Lakes Region Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR), presented by the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC), and hosted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).

Safer Alternatives for the Automotive Industry

Commonly-used cleaners in an automotive shop can be dangerous to your health and to the environment. In addition, many operations within an automotive shop (floor cleanup, antifreeze replacement, etc.) can lead to the mismanagement and misapplication of products and, therefore, may cause serious compliance issues for your business. It is important for owners and technicians in an automotive repair shop to be informed of the chemicals contained in the products they use as well as having good working habits to reduce liability and to improve the business’s bottom line.

PPRC developed these resources to help automotive owners and technicians become informed about common chemicals found in repair shops. The resources will help Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYers) as well as industry professionals.


Spanish Language Pollution Prevention Resources

The Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange has made available a series of pollution prevention fact sheets in both English and Spanish. The fact sheets, developed by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, cover:

  • Auto body
  • Auto repair
  • Mercury switches
  • Energy efficiency/resource conservation
  • Green living

Going green one paint job at a time

Read the full story in the Hastings Star Gazette.

Wayne’s Auto Body in Hastings took a big step toward being more environmentally friendly. The business made some big changes in its operations in order to reduce the amount of VOCs it produces.