Summary of EPA rules

Isocyanates and Organic Compounds

Hazardous Materials 1910.1200



Summary of EPA Rules

The EPA, due to a court action filed by the Sierra Club, was compelled to create new rules that set forth stricter obligations upon those that strip paint (does not apply to us) and to those who spray paints that contain Hazardous Pollutants. Much of the changes were to attempt to contain and control certain metals released into the atmosphere. These are in addition to rules regarding VOCs imposed by the various States and EPA.

The EPA has always had rules regarding spraying. In large part, participants in the mobile paint repair business have believed that due to the small amount of paint sprayed they were not in violation. Actually that is incorrect, rules regarding emmissions of VOCs into the atmosphere encompass outdoor spraying. Nevertheless, no one has really focused on the outdoor spraying on a national scale. Certain local governments, City of Alexandria, VA as an example, certain county systems - Puget Sound, WA have had rules directed toward controlling outdoor spraying.

The new rules probably would fall into the same consideration except that Body Shop associations have insisted to the EPA that mobile painters should have to comply with the same stringent rules as they do.

Nevertheless the new EPA rules require the following:

All area sources of spraying automotive refinish paint will have to comply with the following:

1) All painters have to be certified as properly trained pursuant to approved training facilities.

2) All painting has to be done using an HVLP gun or one that is submitted to the EPA to certify that it has an appropriate transfer efficiency. HVLP guns that have not been modified are automatically approved.

3) All painting of a whole car must take place inside of a four walled, qualified paint booth. Parts of a car or not a whole car may be painted in a 3 sided booth so long as it is proven that there is the required air flow so that the overspray (that which does not stick to the car) goes into the air filters of the booth.

4) The air filters on the paint booth have to be approved polyester or fiberglass filters.

5) Paint gun cleaning rules have to be followed.

Items to note

Subject to the rules -
" The commenters felt that surface coating with these miniature spray guns should be subject to the proposed standards, but felt that the final rule should clarify this applicability relative to operations done with air brushes. One commenter asked the EPA to increase the size of the spray cup allowed on air brushes that would be exempt from the standards." "Response: The proposed and final rule is intended to cover mobile motor vehicle refinishing operations that bring the coating equipment and supplies to the repaired vehicle, as well as those in which the vehicle is brought to a conventional collision repair shop."
"In the final rule, these mobile refinishers are subject to the rule requirements for training, spray equipment, and the use of a spray booth or other ventilated and filtered enclosure if they spray apply coatings from a spray gun with a cup size greater than 3.0 fluid ounces (89 cc). If they use a cup size equal to or smaller than 3.0 fluid ounces, they do not need to comply with the requirements for training, spray guns, and ventilated and filtered enclosures."

Why the 3 oz. cup rule was created -
" Since the EPA could identify no single characteristic or group of characteristics to clearly differentiate a larger spray gun from an “air brush” we have decided to define applicability based on the cup size of the spray equipment. In the final rule, all motor vehicle and mobile equipment spray coating operations and miscellaneous surface coating operations with a cup size greater than 3.0 ounces (89 cc) would be subject to the applicable standards for painter training and equipment. Surface coating operations with a smaller cup size would not be subject to the standards for spray-applied surface coating operations since these are typically just touch up and repair surface coating. This size (3.0 ounces or 89 cc) was selected based on a review of vendor literature for miniature spray guns and air brushes, and discussions with collision repair shop owners that commented on the proposed rule. This cup size is less than the minimum practical amount of coating that could be used to refinish a bumper or fender."

Contest of Rules Promulgated? -

"The requirements established by this final rule may not be challenged separately in any civil or criminal proceedings brought by EPA to enforce the requirements."

What Does that Mean? - If an EPA official proceeds against someone the legitimacy of the rule itself cannot be challenged. It would seem plausible that someone could challenge what the rule means. Thus, if someone was cited or fined for spraying more than 3 oz but they only used a 3 oz gun, then the defense of "going beyond the rule would apply."

The Rules have been amended to provide three years to comply, but the draft referenced "new location." This Final Rule simply states "New Source" and "Existing Sources."

So if you typically go to 5 dealerships and spray at those, is that an existing source? Is it based on operating from the same unit, the same routine? What if you have a new unit but go to an existing account location?

Is it applicable to just the 5 metal HAP (see p. 7) elements? "based on the overwhelming support of the commenters for the applicability criteria and scope of the motor vehicle and mobile equipment source category, we are not narrowing the applicability to only the target HAP for the motor vehicle and mobile equipment source category. The EPA’s understanding, based on site visits and communications with the industry, is that these requirements are consistent with current good environmental and worker protection practices." (p. 40)
It is applicable to you if you spray more than from a 3 oz cup and you do not appy to the EPA to prove that none of the coatings you apply contain one of the target HAPs. (p. 16 and p. 41) you would have to know and be able to certify every chemical that you use to be target HAP free.

If using more than 3 oz guns for application what type of spray booth do you have to have? The EPA Rule on p. 24 says "prep station or spray booth" and references a four sided w roof unit for spraying a whole car and three sided w roof unit for parts of a car.

Note - that even though the EPA uses the phrase "prep station," the applicable NFPA code section 33 and OSHA standards are likely not to accept a "prep station" for continous spraying.

If I chose to have greater than 4 oz guns and assuming that I want to comply, what do I have to have?
a) all painters trained and training certified (p. 24)
b) all sources must submit notification to the EPA and must provide record keeping (p. 26)
c) spray booth that meets the side and roof requirements and has appropriate filters (98% filter efficiency)
d) high efficiency paint guns - HVLP
e) gun washing

Regarding a spray booth is there any possible alternative? See page 83.
"The paint booth requirements in the final rule have been revised to allow for the use of portable enclosures and extraction systems that can be used to enclose only the area being refinished in a spot repair. The enclosure would still need to be ventilated so that air is drawn into and paint
overspray is captured by the enclosure, and it would also need to meet the same requirements for spray booth filters as full size spray booths."

Keep in mind that a small portable device will still need to meet fire code and OSHA standards.



For those of you who wonder about these things, here is a great description about Isocyanates and some of the effects. Also, reference is made to Organic solvents such as Acetone.

This is why the EPA rules on heavy metals is but a part of the concern about the new rules. EPA is but one side of it. Think about it.

EPA - controls issues about what is released into the atmosphere and environment that could affect us all generally.

OSHA - controls issues about what may affect workers in any given work environment.

NFPA - sets guidelines for what various fire hazard officials may consider important

NTSB and State DOT - their concern is for the safety in transport of objects

Zoning - whether what someone wants to perform as an occupation can be performed in a particular location.

We will address the remainder later, but for now, here is the isocyanates and organic solvent information
The unique feature of all diisocyanate-based compounds is that they contain two -N=C=O functional groups, which readily react with compounds containing active hydrogen atoms to form urethanes. The chemical reactivity of diisocyanates, and their unique ability to cross-link, makes them ideal for use in surface coatings, polyurethane foams, adhesives, resins, and sealants. Diisocyanates are usually referred to by their specific acronym; e.g., IPDI for isophorone diisocyanate or HDI for hexamethylene diisocyanate.5 To reduce the inhalation exposure to monomers during spray painting from evaporation, the isocyanate monomers are prepolymerized into oligomers that are generally dimers, trimers, and tetrameres of the monomer. In commercial spray painting operations, the monomer content is usually less than 2 percent by weight. However, the oligomers still pose a hazard to the workers as an aerosol.

Reports indicate that diisocyanates cause irritation to the skin, mucous membranes, eyes, and respiratory tract.6 Worker exposure to high concentrations may result in chemical bronchitis, chest tightness, nocturnal dyspnea (shortness of breath), pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), and reduced lung function.7,8 Lung function is reported to decrease with number of exposures greater than 0.2 mg/m³ to hexamethylene diisocyanate biuret.9 The most important and most debilitating health effect from exposure to diisocyanates is respiratory and dermal sensitization. After sensitization, any exposure, even to levels below any occupational exposure limit or standard, can produce an allergic response that may be life threatening.10,11 The only effective treatment for the sensitized worker is cessation of all diisocyanate exposure.6


Occupational exposure to the organic solvents can cause neurotoxic effects that can include dizziness, headache, an alcohol-like intoxication, narcosis, and death from respiratory failure.12 Automotive spray painters exposed to organic solvents are reported to have decreases in motor and nerve conduction velocities.13 In addition, organic solvents such as acetone, toluene, and xylene can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation.14 Dermal exposure to organic solvents can defat the skin and, thereby, increase the uptake of these solvents by the body. In addition, dermal exposure can cause dermatitis. Some health effects attributed to specific organic solvents are briefly summarized:

Few adverse health effects have been attributed to acetone despite widespread use for many years. Awareness of mild eye irritation occurs at airborne concentrations of about 1000 ppm. Very high concentrations (12000 ppm) depress the central nervous system, causing headache, drowsiness, weakness, and nausea. Repeated direct skin contact with the liquid may cause redness and dryness of the skin.15 Exposures over 1000 ppm cause respiratory irritation, coughing, and headache.16

n-Butyl Acetate

At concentrations exceeding 150 ppm, significant irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract are reported in the literature.16

n-Butyl Alcohol

n-Butyl alcohol is an irritant to the eyes and the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. Exposures over 200 ppm can cause keratitis.14 Eye irritation and headaches occur at concentrations in excess of 50 ppm.16 Exposure to n-butyl alcohol is reported to increase hearing losses for workers who are also exposed to noise.

Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether Acetate (EGBEA)

EGBEA is reported to adversely affecting the blood and hematopoietic systems because it metabolized in the body to form ethylene glycol butyl ether (EGBE). EGBE is known to adversely affect the hematopoietic system.17 EGBEA also causes tissue irritation and central nervous system depression.

Propylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether (PGME)

PGME is reported to cause eye, nose, and throat irritation at concentrations of 95-300 ppm.18


Toluene can cause irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract, dermatitis, and central nervous system depression.14 At concentrations of 200 ppm or less, complaints of headaches, lassitude, and nausea have been reported. At concentrations of 200-500 ppm, loss of memory, anorexia, and motor impairment are reported.16 In addition, muscle impairment and increased reaction time can occur at exposures of 100 ppm or more.


Xylene vapor may cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Repeated or prolonged skin contact with xylene may cause drying and defatting of the skin that may lead to dermatitis. Liquid xylene is irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes, and aspiration of a few milliliters may cause chemical pneumonitis, pulmonary edema, and hemorrhaging. Repeated exposure of the eyes to high concentrations of xylene vapor may cause reversible eye damage.14 At concentrations between 90 and 200 ppm, impairment of body balance, manual coordination, and reaction times can occur. Acute exposure to xylene vapor may cause central nervous system depression and minor reversible effects upon liver and kidneys.1 Workers exposed to concentrations above 200 ppm complain of loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Brief exposure of humans to 200 ppm has caused irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.19






EPA rules recently issued are but one area that you need to know. Please also review items such as 29 CFR Sec. 1910.1200 et seq.

This is the section that requires you to maintain MSDS on your vehicle or in your shop.

If you have employees you should be providing them with information about the chemicals and products that they are using.

At a minimum you have to have MSDS sheets on hand for employees and they have to be apprized of possible exposure to hazardous chemicals. See 1910.1200(e) and (f)