The auto body repair industry is among the top 10 sources of hazardous air pollutants in Minnesota.
Some of the pollution comes from the use of solvent-based paints, which emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). If you’ve ever walked by an auto body shop and caught a whiff of fumes, those are VOCs. VOCs and hazardous air pollutants are harmful to human health and the environment. In the air, VOCs turn into smog-producing ozone, which pollutes and can make us sick.
Auto body repair shops can cut VOC emissions by half or more by switching to water-based paints. In addition, shops using water-based paints often have a more energy-efficient paint booth and more efficient equipment for applying paint, which reduces material waste and energy use.
As a consumer you can decide to look for auto body shops that have made the switch to water-based paint and low-VOC solvents. That benefits everyone: customers, employees, the community, and the environment.
- Let your nose be your guide — you’ll be able to smell the difference if you stop in for an estimate.
- If you’re calling around for estimates, ask the shop ahead of time what type of paint and cleaners they use: water-based or solvent-based?
- You can also ask whether the shop use recycled car parts. Car parts require a lot of energy and resources to produce. The use of recycled parts helps reduce these demands.
- You might also ask about other eco-friendly projects has the shop undertaken. A growing number of shops identify their green initiatives and efforts on their websites.
- Several auto body shops have received MPCA grants to switch to cleaner, less polluting technologies and materials. Read more about these businesses and their green accomplishments.
- For a listing of auto body shops that have switched to water-based paints with the help of grants from the City of Minneapolis, check out Minneapolis's green business factsheet.
- For more on making the switch, check out this article, Clear The Air - Reduce Volatile Organic Compounds, from the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program.