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Area Auto Body Repair Shops to Participate in "Design for the Environment" Project

Charlotte, NC – Eight auto body repair shops in the Greater Charlotte area will participate in an EPA "Design for the Environment" (DfE) Small Automotive Refinishing Shop Project partnership next week, July 14 – 17, to evaluate auto painting and refinishing techniques used in their shops. Automotive refinishers use many potentially harmful chemicals, especially during painting operations. Of particular concern are isocyanates, solvents and paint additives. The Small Automotive Refinishing Shop Project will identify better control technologies and more efficient workplace practices and will make this information available to interested shop owners.

The DfE program is a voluntary, partnership-based program that works with small companies to integrate health and environmental considerations into business decisions.  The DfE provides examples of health and safety improvements to help save auto body/collision shops time and money, provide a higher job of refinishing and a cleaner, safer shop. This project will involve site visits to seven to 10 auto body/collision facilities from Mecklenburg, Gaston, Union, Stanley, Cabarrus and York Counties.

 The DfE program is working in partnership with the auto refinish (collision repair) industry to promote best practices and technologies that reduce toxic emissions of diisocyanates, organic solvents, heavy metals, and other hazardous air pollutants. Diisocyanates are highly reactive chemicals used in automotive paints, insulation materials, foams and other products. Diisocyanates can cause serious or fatal respiratory disease and are the leading cause of occupational asthma.

 Nationally, the auto refinishing sector represents about 60,000 shops and more than 200,000 collision repair technicians. The total number of shop employees is significantly higher. Residents near shops may also be exposed to toxic emissions. More info on the project can be found at http://www.epa.gov/dfe/projects/auto/about.htm 

 Also partnering in this project are Mecklenburg County Air Quality, UNCC Small Business Office for Environmental Assistance, and SEQL (Sustainable Environment for Quality of Life), a regional project initiated by the Elected Officials of the Charlotte Region EPA Environmental Working Group, and the Centralina and Catawba Regional Council of Governments.



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