Many of us make an effort to be more eco-friendly by conserving energy at home, driving less, going solar and using safe cleaning products. Businesses also do their part by reducing solvent usage to prevent harmful substances from entering the environment.
At DaSilva’s Auto Body, we’re always looking for environmentally-friendly alternatives. Within the industry, using low-VOC paint has been one such move.
What Are VOCs?
For decades, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) have been a key ingredient in auto paint. Unfortunately, VOCs are highly unstable and react with other elements in the atmosphere, contributing to pollution in the air and drinking water supply and damages the ozone layer.
Exposure has been linked with headaches and nausea. Long-term, those regularly in contact with these solvents have a higher chance of developing asthma, cognitive issues and certain cancers.
The traditional way of applying auto paints releases these compounds into the atmosphere. While the EPA has restrictions on the concentration of VOCs in paints, individual states have cracked down even further, limiting the percentage to even smaller amounts.
Beyond the big picture, how much of an improvement are low-VOC auto paints over their traditional solvent-based counterparts?
1. Fewer Solvents Released
With traditional paints, VOC levels reach their highest as the solution is first applied. While a large percentage of the solvents end up in the atmosphere, the paint is not suddenly solvent-free. As a result, the paint continues to release these toxins and potential carcinogens for years after. In turn, we’re regularly exposed to VOCs in small percentages.
Because low-VOC paint uses water as a carrier agent, these solutions simply release water into the atmosphere, without the high percentage of toxins. Short term, waterborne paints place less strain on the environment and long term, less solvents drastically reduces your exposure to VOCs and any potential health complications.
2. Less Environmental Pollution
Low-VOC paints cannot contain more than 3.5 pounds per gallon of solvents. This decreases to 2.8 and 2.1 pounds per gallon for topcoats and primers, respectively. As these levels are lower than the EPA’s recommendations, waterborne paints release fewer hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and meet clean air regulations. As an added benefit, lower percentages of other solvents create a less-flammable solution.
When less solvents are released in your workplace, employees can work in a lower-toxin environment with less-hazardous substances. Long term, this change not only decreases your environmental impact, but may further cut down on on-the-job injuries and illnesses.
3. Low-VOC Paint Is Superior
Low-VOC solutions cover the full spectrum of auto paint options with superior durability. In comparison:
- Waterborne paints tend to create a high-gloss finish without extra coats added on top. This solution not only cuts down on the time it takes to paint, but also requires fewer products and coatings.
- In terms of heat and abrasion resistance, waterborne paints have proven to be more durable than solvent-based solutions and long term, may better protect a car from corrosion.
- With waterborne paints, application no longer requires thinners, additives and hardeners, which ends up saving you money.
- Waterborne paints are a higher-solids solution; only one and a half coats may be needed to paint a vehicle. With solvent-based paints, not only do you have to wait for the solution to dry, but up to six coats may be needed for the desired look and coverage.
- Waterborne paint has fewer adhesion issues, even if you decide to touch up the paint or apply another coating later.
From solar power to proper waste oil disposal, DaSilva’s continues to make our facility more green and eco-friendly. To learn more about our operations or to schedule an appointment, give us a call today.