Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

April, 2009

EPA Air Pollution Compliance

Q. We are a mobile automotive paint repair business that uses Accuspray guns powered by the 23 series turbines to do our paint repairs. The dealer managers love us but the body shop hates us and is reporting that we are polluting the air. Accuspray used to give 92% to 97% transfer of product to whatever you are painting and now that 3M owns them, they are not saying anything. How do I find out how much is transferring and how do I quiet down these complainers?

A. The only way to accurately evaluate the transfer efficiency is to conduct actual tests. This is NOT a simple process by any means. During the late 1980's and early 90's I conducted numerous tests for the South Coast AQQMD and each test was complicated and took at least one full day to accomplish.

TE is defined as:

Weight of solid coating deposited on the target

Weight of solid paint sprayed by the spray gun

On vehicles it is difficult to weigh the amount of solid paint deposited, although it is not impossible.

The easier part of the procedure is to calculate the weight of solid paint used. This involves testing the paint for its percent weight solids in a laboratory, per ASTM 2369.

I don't know how you came to the 92-97% transfer efficiency for the Accuspray gun. During the 10 or so years I performed TE tests, I evaluated Accuspray, Graco, DeVilbiss, Binks, DUX and other spray guns, and never came close to 90%. A good value was 60-70% when painting large surfaces. For smaller surfaces the TE was in the range of 20-50%. Admittedly, turbine-operated HVLP spray guns are more efficient than compressed air-operated HVLP, nevertheless the 92-97% seems unrealistically high.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Q2. How do we get a confirmation from EPA or other regulatories that what we are doing does not violate any regulations? How does one prove that our harm to anything environmental is minimal?

We do small repairs to cars. Repairing and painting a bumper is the largest repair that we perform. We will use less than 50 gallons of paints and/or associated chemicals in a 12 month period. That is probably an overstatement.

How can we get some sort of certification so that we can show our customers that we are conforming to everything we know to conform to?

A2. You might need to retain the services of an local environmental consultant who can go through all your records, read the regulations that affect you in your state and then write a letter stating that he/she has audited your work and that you appear to be in compliance with all applicable rules.


Ron Joseph

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