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Paint Industry


This Industry Profile Fact Sheet is presented by the EPA Region 3 to assist state, local, and municipal agencies, and private groups in the initial planning and evaluation of sites being considered for remediation, redevelopment or reuse. It is intended to provide a general description of site conditions and contaminants which may be encountered at specific industrial facilities. This fact sheet is presented for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as a federal policy or directive.


Many materials are brought to the site/facility and mixed in varying quantities to produce paint and coatings to be used in public, and sometimes private, sectors. The raw materials are often purchased in bulk quantities (truck-load) and then incorporated into a process line to be added to the final product. The manufacture of paint involves mixing, grinding, thinning adjustments, filling, and labeling.


This industry typically uses a wide variety of materials depending on what type of coating/paint is being manufactured. Some common materials found include surfactants, chemical dryers, polymers, organic compounds, heavy metals (in the coloring agents), epoxies, solvents, mild corrosives, polyurethanes, herbicides and fungicides. Most of these materials are brought to the facility/site by bulk transport (tank trucks) and may be stored in large quantities for inclusion in the process. Some materials, such as the pigments, are in solid form but most of the materials encountered are in a liquid state. Due to a wide variety of specialty paints, it is difficult to name specific chemicals; however, the following is a list of some commonly encountered materials:

(L) - liquid (s) - solid


In general, there is little waste generated by a paint manufacturer because most of the materials are used up in the process. During the vat cleanings, waste products were often washed into a sewer drain. Common waste products encountered at Superfund assessment and remediation projects include off-spec paint, volatile organic compounds, waste metals (from the pigments), waste or spent polymers, surfactants, herbicides, anti-bacterial agents and mild corrosives (for cleaning the process line and vats). Most of these compounds are in the form of sludges and/or solids and will harden over time if not utilized. These materials may be in drums, tanks or in the process lines themselves.

Additionally, contaminated buildings and the associated demolition debris may be encountered at abandoned or inactive sites. Decontamination and wipe testing of this material may be required prior to off-site landfill disposal.


All raw materials encountered on site should be visually identified and confirmed using immuno-assay, qualitative indicators, or wet chemistry field screening techniques. It should be noted that many of the raw materials containing corrosive and herbicide compounds may represent a significant direct contact and/or inhalation hazard to assessment personnel. Visually identified contaminated areas, containers or process lines should be characterized by collecting several samples for laboratory analysis. Surface and subsurface soil sampling should be performed from the suspected contaminated areas outward to the suspected clean areas. Once the primary contaminated areas are established, grid or random sampling may be performed to confirm the suspected clean areas. The application of non-intrusive subsurface geophysics should be evaluated to detect underground burial pits, process lines and chemical storage tanks.

On-site and local wells may be sampled if groundwater is an environmental concern. Installation of monitoring wells or other groundwater sampling techniques should be evaluated if it is necessary to fill data gaps.


Heavy Metals Analysis:

Herbicide/Fungicide Analysis

Priority Pollutant Organics Analysis (volatiles, semivolatiles)

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization

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