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EPA Writes NeighborhoodNet
Provides New Information On Autobody Shops, Their Emissions, and Training

April 4, 2002

NeighborhoodNet recently received a request from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency to publish additional information which has become available about emissions from Autobody Paint Shops. NeighborhoodNet spent considerable time a few years ago working with local, state, and Federal Agencies to determine the actual content of emissions from a local autobody paintshop. Until this research was completed at NeighborhoodNet's instigation, it had not been known that lead chromate, which is extremely toxic, is being emitted.

Ultimately, it was the Federal EPA which required a German paint manufacturer to release the information that its paints included lead chromate and zinc chromate. Lead and zinc chromate fall into a category of chemicals called hexavalent chromium compounds. Lead chromate also contains lead, which is toxic in its own right, although less so than hexavalent chromium. However, the amounts being emitted were determined to be small. No study was done of accumulations over time in the soil near the shop.

Following are the two letters from the EPA with links to their new material on emissions. A link to this article has now been added to the primary Autobody Shops and Pollution Article as requested by the EPA.

Many thanks to the EPA for taking the initiative to bring this to the attention of neighborhoods. I noted to the EPA that at this very moment there are neighborhoods, including Regency By The Lake that are fighting the placement of an autobody repair shop directly against their neighborhood.

Dear Mr. Phillips.

Your name was forwarded to me by a colleague at EPA (see message below). I found your web site while searching for information on toluene releases from auto body shops. Information on chemicals used by auto body shops can be found on a web site developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) Auto Refinish Project

EPA's Design for the Environment Program has been working with the collision repair industry to encourage best practices and technologies that reduce exposure and release of toxic chemicals in the auto body shop and surrounding neighborhood. As part of the DfE Auto Refinish Project, a team (industrial hygienist & painter) has conducted over 50 shop site visits to increase painters' awareness of potential risks associated with spray painting and related activities, and to encourage use of efficient spray guns and spray booths, along with appropriate personal protective equipment, to minimize exposure and release of toxic chemicals used in auto body shops.

In addition, the Design for the Environment Program developed a virtual auto body shop for shop owners, painters, and other interested parties that provides readily accessible information from government and industry sources on health & safety, MSDSs (on-line directly from several paint companies), best shop practices, pollution prevention & cost savings/benefits, user-friendly protective equipment, innovative technology, and many other areas of interest to the collision repair industry.

You may find these websites helpful in your efforts to identify chemicals used by auto refinishers and potential air emissions from shops. Please feel free to contact me or my colleague, David DiFiore, if you have any questions or need additional information.


Mary Cushmac
EPA Design for the Environment Program (7406M)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

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