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If you haven’t done it yet, you better get cracking. Solvent-based paints are out and you only have until next year to comply with new regulations banning solvent-based paints in spray booth operations. Fortunately, the move away from solvent-based paints to water-based paints is a win-win for both your business and the environment.

Paint-Booth-Painters-Lifts-3-Axis-2-Axis Mounted to Wall of Truck Paint Booth

The Dangers of Solvent-Based Paint

Even in the best paint booth, Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs pose enormous health risks according to the EPA. In solvent-based paints, practically 85% of the chemicals contained within are VOCs. The risks to your health include:

  • Irritation to the Eyes, Nose, and Throat
  • Headaches
  • Balance and Coordination Problems
  • Nausea
  • Liver Damage
  • Kidney Damage
  • Damage to the Central Nervous System
  • And Some Cause Cancer

In its place, paint booth operators are going to have to switch to water-based paints that are mostly water and only 10% contains VOCs. These changes are going into effect nationally next year (2017) and many states have their own VOC regulations.

California leads the way passing strict new VOC regulations just this year to take effect next year. Previous EPA regulations were first instituted in California and these new VOC restrictions are expected to closely align with those enacted by California regulators.

California’s VOC Regulations are a Good Guide

The EPA instituted guidelines for VOC regulations. Each state has the responsibility to devise its own rules for enforcement. These regulations for paint booth operators go beyond just solvent-based paints.

In California, for industrial and commercial spray painting there are new standards for applying for permits to operate spray booths. There are new regulations that require better sprayers to minimize spraying hazards and more.

It doesn’t matter whether you operate a paint booth for vehicles or furniture these new paint coating requirements will apply. San Diego County has instituted its own standards for vehicle paint operations.

Limits on VOC solvents apply to any operation that involves curing or drying of applied materials including paint, primers, sealers, varnish, etc. and uses HVLP (High-Volume, Low-Pressure) sprayers. Enacted in May of this year, there are few exemptions from these new restrictions.

As it pertains to paint booth operators specifically, the only exemption allowed is for small operations that only use up to 20 gallons of paint in their operations per year. California is just one of the many states enacting new VOC regulations. Thus far this year, more than a dozen states have already adopted new VOC limits.

Regulations Differ Everywhere

Within the borders of the U.S. there will be another 38 different regulations instituted over the next year for reducing VOC emissions. Although California’s VOC limits will likely be replicated state-by-state it is important for all paint booth operators to know the rules and regulations where you live.

The U.S. isn’t the only country trying to transition from solvent-based paints to water-based paints. The EU passed new VOC limits just this past June that further reduce the standards adopted in 2007 regarding vehicle refinishing products.

Canada also has new limits on Volatile Organic Compounds based on California’s Air Resource Board recommendations and EPA rules. The new law further restricts VOC levels for auto refinishing. If you operate multiple shops here in the U.S. and in Canada you should verify that there are no new regulations for other countries you are operating in.

The Pros of Using Waterborne Paint Systems

All of these changes are in an effort to reduce chemical hazards. While waterborne paint systems are much safer to use than solvent-based paints, there are still health risks associated with exposure to water-based paints. Best practices for maintaining a clean worksite and protecting your workers from exposure to noxious fumes and hazardous chemicals still apply.

In the U.S. the goal is to make waterborne paint the standard for industrial and commercial coating and refinishing operations. Some shop owners are waiting until the law forces them to adopt these changes. But there are many pros to transitioning to the new lower VOC standards that will ultimately help your bottom line and increase worker safety. Some of those pros include:

  • Reduced risk of contamination and airborne illnesses due to bad air quality
  • Reduction in toxic emissions from spray paint operations
  • Better finishes due to lighter weight paint applications
  • Truer colors once water-based paints dry

Even better, Accudraft Paint Booths offers an exclusive line of waterborne products that give you all of the benefits of a typical water-based paint and more. Take a look at what the Xcelerator Waterborne Paint Drying System from Accudraft can do for your body shop.


Check Out Accudraft’s Xcelerator Waterborne Paint Drying System

One reason shop owners are reticent to switch to water-based paint solvents is that they are afraid of the costs to productivity, costs for adoption, and uncertainty about the ability of water-based paints to provide the same quality finish. Well all of those fears are unwarranted.

First of all, our Xcelerator Waterborne Paint Drying System practically cuts flash times by 50%. Paint dries much faster because there are over 30 different air jets targeting heat and air for the most even finish and fastest dry time possible. And this system can be added to older paint booths as an upgrade as well as an addition to new paint booths.

You’ll even save up to half of the money you typically spend on energy costs using the Xcelerator system. It runs on its own high speed motors and fans so that you are not putting additional strain on your air units. That allows all of the energy to be focused where you need it – on providing a fast, clean finish to your customers.

Make Transition Easier with Our TITAN Downdraft Paint Booth

Still thinking about taking a wait-and-see approach to save a few bucks? If so, you’re in luck. You can transition to water-based paint without throwing out all of your unused solvent-based paint. Our TITAN Downdraft Paint Booth can do both.

No extra effort is required on your part. You can switch from water-based to solvent-based paint quickly and easily until you run out of old paint – or the law catches up with you. This may be the perfect time to invest in a brand new Accudraft paint booth. Especially if you haven’t switched yet, the TITAN is the best way to make a smooth transition.

Switch Now and Start Reaping the Benefits

When you consider all of the pluses to transition to water-based paints, it doesn’t make sense to wait until you absolutely have to switch. Your finishes look even better using water-based paint than they did using solvent-based paints, reflecting a truer color. You can save 50% on your energy costs. And your finishes are cleaner and much more even.

On top of that, you will increase productivity within your shop because you can push the cars through much faster. Our Waterborne paint system has adjustable jet speeds and in-booth controls. Give your shop a head start by switching to water-based paints now. Contact our team at Accudraft Paint Booths to discuss adding Xcelerator to your operations.