The auto repair industry has for years been in a slow transition from solvent/lacquer-based paint to waterborne paints due to the toxic impact the former type of paint has on the environment.
The main concern with lacquer-based paints are that as the paint dries it releases Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s into the air. While some VOC’s are harmless and natural, plants release a type of VOC, the type released by auto body paints are considered toxic.
These types of toxins are not only found in auto repair facilities, but also in our homes. In a study by the EPA in 1985 they found that these harmful toxins caused the following health effects,
● Eye, nose and throat irritation
● Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
● Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
● Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.
Although the toxins can be found in our homes the very first item listed as a cause of these harmful VOC’s was paints, paint strippers and other solvents. These are very prevalent in the auto body repair world and thus the reason for concern in our industry.
For all the people who work in body shops, inspect vehicles at shops, and frequent auto body repair facilities we all breathe a sigh of release that the world is now focusing on more eco-friendly auto body paints and materials.
The toxic solvents inside of the paints that are released while drying have been replaced with water. In fact, for many auto body repair facilities this is now a part of their marketing efforts to draw customers in because they use “eco-friendly” or waterborne paints.
A quote from Jost Collision in Neptune City New Jersey states the following benefits to waterborne paints,
● Up to a 96% decrease in VOC emissions compared to solvent borne basecoats
● Reduces hazardous waste generation
● Eliminates flammability hazard associated with solvent borne coatings
● Uses less material to cover more area
Ellis & Salazar Automotive & Collision Repair in Austin Texas make the promise:
“Our certified technicians will give your vehicle a fresh new look while using environmentally-friendly auto paint.”
With this growing awareness of the effect auto body repair has on the environment I don’t mind that these shops are using it to market and encourage people to use them to repair their vehicle. We can only hope that more and more repair facilities and auto product manufacturers will continue to find ways to lower the impact that auto body repairs have on the environment and that we all support them in their efforts.