The Environmental Protection Agency is tasked to ensure that business practices reduce risk both to people and the environment through pollution prevention. Automotive spray painting is an undertaking inherently involving potentially noxious solvents and particles, and it is important that day-to-day operations conform to pollution-prevention programs outlined by the EPA. 

Below are the three most important practices that should be observed in spray booths to prevent accidents in the workplace and minimize health hazards to workers.

Use paints that do not contain toxic chemicals

Pigments may contain lead or chromium which, if not properly captured by exhaust filters before they are released into the environment, can contaminate nearby properties or water resources. Paints also need to be as environment-neutral as possible to minimize exposure of mechanics to solvent vapors that could impact respiratory health in the long run. 

Use spray booth exhaust filters with 98% removal efficiency

To ensure that atomized paint mists and particles are not emitted into the environment outside of the body shop, exhaust filters need to capture at least 98% of hazardous air pollutants (HAP). This is the new national standard set by the EPA. This does not only ensure that body shop workers are not exposed to HAP as mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but also leads to better workmanship as dust and over-sprayed particles are prevented from re-circulating within the booth and coating the surface of the finished work. If your spray booths are not currently outfitted with such filters, you can always work with your filter supplier to upgrade or customize your filter needs to meet the new standard.

Spray booths need to be well-ventilated and regularly maintained

For obvious health reasons, spray booths need to have sufficient air circulation to prevent mechanics from inhaling vapors that could damage their lungs. Adequate ventilation also prevents buildup of volatile solvents that might create a flammable working environment. On top of that, the spray booth needs to be thoroughly washed and cleaned of residue before embarking on another paint job that might emit volatile organic compounds and create potentially flammable HAP.