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Improving Air Quality in Your Community

Outdoor Air - Industry, Business, and Home: Auto Body Shops - Additional Information

This information will help you gain a better understanding of auto body shops. The topics below address the following questions:

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What are auto body shops?

Auto body shops repair, repaint, and customize cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Their activities include sanding, cleaning, and painting, all of which may release pollutants into the air and may contribute to health concerns in the shop and in the community.

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What kinds of pollutants are emitted from auto body shops?

Auto body shops emit pollutants such as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), particle pollution (dust), and volatile organic compounds (VOC). These pollutants can contribute to health problems that may affect shop employees, customers, and the community. While Federal, state, local, and Tribal regulations limit the amount of emissions from auto body shops, dangerous releases of HAPs can occur if an auto body shop does not operate in compliance with regulations.

  • Paints, cleaners, and paint strippers can release some HAPs and VOC. Chemicals in these substances can also react in the air to form ground-level ozone (smog), which has been linked to a number of respiratory effects. EPA has developed a Web site on ground-level ozone.
  • Lead, chromium, and cadmium are metals that form particle pollution during sanding and welding. EPA's Air Toxics Health Effects Notebook has more information on lead, chromium, and cadmium.
  • Breathing particle pollution can cause respiratory problems and other harmful health effects. EPA has developed a Web site on particle pollution.
  • Diisocyanates are hazardous air pollutants emitted during painting operations. These compounds are a leading cause of occupational asthma.

For more information on the toxicity of these pollutants, check out information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). EPA also has more information available at its Air Toxics Web site.

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How can I help auto body shops reduce air pollution?

  • Make Connections
    • Get to know local auto body shop owners and operators. They know best about the materials and processes used in their business and the regulations with which they must comply.
    • Keep local media aware of progress by sending them updates. Publicity can reward success and attract more public involvement.
  • Make a Plan
    • One idea is to form a work group that includes local owners and operators to develop and implement workable pollution reduction plans.
  • Locate Resources
    • Find state, local, and Tribal contacts.
    • Use the resources listed on these Web pages to get help with analysis, technical information, equipment, and funding.
  • Sponsor Training
    • Improved skills lead to reduced paint usage and exposure for workers.
    • Small shops may need funding in order to attend or provide training.
  • Reward Facilities
    • Use media connections to provide coverage for successful efforts. Positive publicity can mean increased business.
    • Visibly displayed awards or certificates may also increase business.
    • Check out the award, EcoBiz Auto Repair Shops in the Portland Area (PDF) (2 pp, 48 KB) Exit EPA Disclaimer, from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality offered to auto body shop owners and operators practicing pollution prevention .
  • Be an Informed Consumer
    • Patronize shops that implement pollution prevention strategies. Check with your insurance company to see if they know of shops that practice pollution prevention.

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What other Web sites related to pollution reduction for auto body shops are available?

Exit EPA Disclaimer

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