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Auto Body Shops and Waterborne Paints

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AutoBody Shops

Auto Body Shops and Waterborne Paints

Waterborne basecoats contain much lower concentrations of harmful volatile organic compounds. But painters must still take precautions when working with them. Here are some recommendations that will ensure that shops use these new products safely while protecting the environment:

Protective equipment

  • When shooting paint, wear a respirator, eye protection, protective gloves (good quality disposable nitrile are best), chemical-resistant coveralls, and work shoes. 
  • A supplied air respirator is the best choice. The half-face air purifying respirators used by most painters do not provide enough protection against the isocyanates in clear coats.

Spray booths

  • Have a ventilation engineer periodically inspect and maintain spray booths to ensure adequate airflow. 
  • Change the filters on a regular basis.
  • Remove tape, plastic, razor blades, etc. from the floor filters after every paint job. 

Paint guns

  • Clean waterborne paint guns with a water-based cleaning product. Use acetone for the final rinse. 
  • Avoid lacquer thinner and gun cleaners in spray cans. They are not recommended for use with waterborne products and can be very harmful. 
  • Consider purchasing a wall-mounted waterborne gun cleaning system. These are readily available from body shop suppliers.
  • Avoid getting leftover paint or cleaning products on your skin because the chemicals can pass directly into your bloodstream. 
  • Always wear eye protection, chemical-resistant coveralls, and nitrile gloves when cleaning your paint guns.

Waterborne waste disposal

  • Businesses are required to designate their wastes before choosing a method of treatment or disposal. To get help finding out how to dispose of your waste, call 206-263-8899 for no-charge technical help.
  • It is illegal to put waste paint in the shop's dumpster even if it has been solidified with a flocculant - unless you have a waste clearance. To get a waste clearance, call our Waste Characterization program at 206-263-8528.
  • Always wear eye protection, chemical-resistant coveralls, and nitrile gloves when handling the wastes.

For more information see Characterizing Waterborne Paints Used in Automotive Collision Repair (PDF) or contact Steve Whittaker at 206-263-8499 or

Help for auto body shops

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