Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

May, 2004

Spray Equiptment Clean up

Q. We use large amounts of MEK and Xylene based thinners to flush sray paint equipment. We are applying marine epoxies and high solids paints. We would like to find a substitute for these products to reduce the amount of waste and emmisions of these toxins. Do you know of any new, less toxic solvents being used?

A. I visit numerous military facilities every year and see a few solvent blends being used. One is a 50/50 mixture of MEK and acetone. Although MEK is not a desirable solvent at least the acetone is relatively safe with regard to health issues. Of course both solvents have low flash points and in that regard they are undesirable. In addition, this solvent mixture evaporates fairly quickly and may or may not suit your needs.

Inland Technologies sells a solvent called EP 921 and is being used by several military installations for the purposes that you have in mind. This solvent appears to be safe and contains no HAP. One disadvantage is that apparently it leaves the gun feeling a little gunky after cleaning has taken place, and painters don't like this feel. To counter this I have seen painters take a rag that has been moistened with acetone or MEK to simply wipe the gun after it has been cleaned with the EP 921.

I hope that these recommendations will be useful.

Best wishes,

Ron Joseph

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