September 16–22 is National Pollution Prevention Week, a time to congratulate organizations and businesses that have reduced or eliminated sources of pollution. The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP), a U of MN organization that works with businesses on energy, water, and waste reduction, began a project to limit the use of some hazardous automotive products in north Minneapolis. The MPCA has identified north Minneapolis as a neighborhood that is disproportionately impacted by air pollution.
Auto repair and maintenance shops use engine degreaser and brake cleaners in their work that contain volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants. VOCs evaporate to create ground-level ozone, a contributor to air pollution. Hazard air pollutants can harm human health when inhaled or absorbed through the skin. MnTAP worked with auto shops in North Minneapolis to test alternative products, purchased from auto parts retailers with stores in the neighborhood. Once they identified safer alternatives, MnTAP gave a case of the products to several auto shops so they could ensure it met their needs.
Monte's Auto Shop emphasizes the importance of good customer and community relations, and was eager to try out the alternative products. Monte's was able to purchase Ultra Low VOC Brake Cleaner through their current auto parts supplier and found that it performed similarly and cost the same as the product they had been using. Making the switch reduced their VOC emissions by 86% and eliminated their hazardous air pollutant emissions, which protects the community and their own employees.
MnTAP worked with several auto shops in north Minneapolis and, in total, was able to reduce VOC emissions by 520 pounds per year and hazardous air pollutants by 440 pounds per year.
The MPCA provides grant funding to MnTAP to help make this work possible. Learn more about the agency's pollution prevention efforts.