Hybrid and electric cars are increasingly popular, partly for their smaller impact on the environment compared to traditional vehicles. But owners of all types of cars can make greener choices when it comes to auto-body work.
The auto-body repair industry is among the top 15 sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and among the top 10 sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program. VOCs and HAPS are emitted from body shop painting operations. When VOCs are released into the atmosphere, they are chemically transformed into ground-level ozone (also known as smog), which is a harmful air pollutant.
Look for shops that have switched to water-based paint and low-VOC primers. The use of water-based paints can lower VOC emissions by 50% or more. In addition, shops using water-based paints often have a more energy-efficient paint booth and more efficient paint application. This reduces the amount of paint and thinner used, which in turn, reduces the amount of hazardous waste produced and the amount of VOCs released. Let your nose be your guide; there should not be a strong chemical odor when you walk into a shop.
Cleaning solvents are a mainstay of auto body repair shops. Ask shop staff what they’ve done to reduce solvent use, including reuse and recycling efforts.