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Automobile Painting

Spray Painting Efficiency Training

How efficient are your painters in their spray paint application? Are they aware that a correlation exists between spray paint efficiency and money savings? How knowledgeable are they about EPA’s 6H NESHAP regulations? Do they spray with health and compliance in mind? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then getting your painters trained in spray transfer efficiency should be the way to go. The Pollution Prevention Resource Center’s (PPRC) spray efficiency half-day training, with its virtual simulator, is available for the painters in your facility to improve their technique and knowledge.


Increasing your efficiency in spray painting is important for many reasons. Minimizing overspray lowers cost as you reduce the volume of paint mixed and sprayed.  It can reduce the release of toxic air emissions, potentially reducing health risks associated with exposure as well as impacts to the surrounding community.  Other benefits include reduced generation of hazardous waste, and even, depending on where you spray, lower permit costs.

We’re also offering this training to bi-lingual (Spanish and English) painters. 


PPRC currently has funding to provide training to qualified shops at no cost, saving companies at least $2,500 in training fees, plus travel expenses.    Contact (or 206-352-2050 X102) to see if your company qualifies for free training.  

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Health Impacts

Toxics, solvents and isocyanates can cause adverse health impacts such as enlarged lungs, irregular heartbeat, kidney failure, and nerve damage. This training can help reduce short and long-term exposure, improving employee safety and possible worker’s compensation claim issues.

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Material Savings

Increased transfer efficiency will reduce material usage. Research in the collision repair industry has shown that the STAR program has results in an average savings of $4,200 per year per employee in 1996 dollars. An industrial facility can save as much as $40,000 or more annually. Even the most experienced painters have been shown to improve their efficiency by as much as 25% through increased attention to application techniques.

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Environmental Impacts 

Reduced emissions can result in cleaner air and better community standing. Also, improved spray efficiency generally reduces the amount of hazardous waste generated. By reducing the pollutants emitted you can reduce your liability and potentially reduce regulatory burden and/or permit costs.


The 6H NESHAP regulation affects collision repair facilities, small and large manufacturers, and other facilities that spray coatings. The purpose of the rule is to reduce the amount of certain hazardous air pollutants emitted by these facilities. Compliance requirements include training for technicians to optimize spray application, minimize potential hazardous air emissions, proper equipment selection and maintenance practices, and proper storage and waste disposal.


In 2008, the EPA’s 6H NESHAP Area Source rules for surface coatings became law. This law is specifically applicable to the collision repair industry, but if you apply surface coatings to metal or plastic substrates it may very likely apply to you as well.  The 6H NESHAP includes recordkeeping requirements, new filter requirements, and both classroom and hands-on spray efficiency technique training.  It also requires the use of either Airless, Air-assisted, Electrostatic, or HVLP spray guns, or guns with equivalent transfer efficiency.  Currently there are six of those guns.  The required NESHAP training elements are met by the STAR® program, which PPRC provides in its trainings.


The 6H NESHAP addresses five metals that are hazardous air pollutants.  These metals are chromium (Cr), cadmium (Cd), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb) and manganese (Mn).  If you spray any coating that contains one of the five target metals, you are subject to these regulations.  If you are in the collision repair industry you are automatically subject to these regulations, even if you do not spray coatings containing the target metals. However, if you certify your coatings free of these metals you can apply for an exemption.  If you are not an automotive shop, but still use a paint with one of the target metals, you are also subject to 6H requirements.


PPRC is currently providing Spray Technique Analysis and Research (STAR®) and NESHAP training to painters and paint instructors.  The STAR® program was developed by the Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC) at the University of Northern Iowa and is dedicated to improving the overall efficiency of manual spray coating operations by enhancing the techniques of spray technicians. STAR® addresses:

  • The importance of gun adjustments to achieve proper air and fluid pressure

  • The importance of good equipment maintenance

  • Calibration and use of the LaserTouch™ technology

  • Proper spray gun distance and orientation

  • Spray overlap and edge painting techniques to achieve maximum efficiency


In the past, the only way to educate and train painters involved costly, time consuming, and labor intense in-booth training. Today, PPRC utilizes the VirtualPaint Training System. By combining software simulation with advanced hardware technologies, the virtual simulator has greatly improved training by making it highly adaptable and, in addition, it mimics a fully-customized painting and coating production environment which makes spray application training more effective. The Training System provides realistic hands-on painter virtual reality (VR) training that can be conducted in a classroom or in a paint shop. There’s no more waiting for coating to be mixed, parts to dry, or materials to be provided to prepare for training.

Using the virtual reality training completely eliminates hazardous air emissions and paint waste. Spray painters who are trained under our program significantly reduce the proper spray application learning curve, and PPRC instructors are able to provide precise feedback benefits to both experienced and novice painters. Plus, during the virtual reality training, painters have unlimited access to practice parts and coating at the touch of a button.


Ken Grimm, PPRC’s Industry Outreach Manager, has completed the IWRC’s Train-the-Trainer course in addition to his nearly 20 years of industrial and automotive paint experience. During that time Ken worked as a lead painter, paint shop manager, EHS manager and facility trainer.  He has provided train-the-trainer courses to more than two dozen Community and Technical Colleges in the Pacific Northwest, as well as training to more than 250 collision repair shops and industrial facilities across the United States.

Michael Strauhal, PPRC’s Environmental Specialist, is currently being trained by Ken Grimm to assist with providing training to spray paint applicators nationwide. Michael has also taken the IWRC’s online training courses in 1) Spray Equipment and Setup, 2) Spray Technique, and 3) Booth and Filter Maintenance. Michael is accompanying Ken Grimm to all in-person trainings during his apprenticeship.

To inquire about training dates and costs, contact Ken at or Michael at


Watch this this free webinar that covers EPA’s 6H surface coating regulation and the spray efficiency techniques required.

Additional Information & Resources on Spray Efficiency

Surface Coating NESHAP (Subpart HHHHHH) Information

  • A copy of the full regulation from the EPA can be downloaded here.

  • As published in the Federal Register you can download it here.

  • A summary brochure can be downloaded from the EPA here.

  • A summary brochure can found on the EPA website.

  • To see if you qualify for an exemption click here.

IOWA Waste Reduction Center Resources

US EPA Collision Repair Campaign

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a large collection of information and tools designed to help collision repair save money while coming into compliance with the new rules.

  • EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program has a checklist for best shop practices.

  • Currently awaiting updates to remove the need for Adobe Flash, a good website for shops that showed all the different paint related areas is King County’s auto body rule tool.


Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

  • This resource is a comprehensive, plain-language manual to help shops learn about and implement various pollution prevention strategies and best management practices.

Environmental Results Programs

  • Oregon’s Eco-Biz program has both web-based information and technical assistance providers to help shops achieve Eco-Biz certification.

  • Eco-Biz has both a fact sheet and checklist to help collision repair and or mechanical repair shops address environmental issues in a manageable way.

Self Certification Checklists

These are not only useful tools for state regulations, they are also good, comprehensive lists of things you can do to improve the environmental performance of your auto body shop while saving money.

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