Feb 252013

You work in a collision repair facility. You clean up and go home, but when you return the next morning, you find a storage drum smoldering.  Did you know used paint booth filters can spontaneously combust?  Some folks have even observed used filters catching fire right after being removed from their paint booth.

In an effort to find an answer, several organizations have conducted research to identify the cause of spontaneous combustion in filters.  The research generated several recommendations as noted below.

  • Do not dispose of used filters in a dumpster where the filters can be smashed / compressed
  • Do not store used filters in trash bags

  • Use a leak-proof, tightly sealed metal drum to store

    the used filters because this cuts off oxygen

  • Do not store with other trash or hazardous materials

  • Keep the storage containers with the used filters in a

    cool environment

  • Dry used filters before disposal and storage

Simply put, the key to preventing combustion of paint booth filters is to prevent them from being compressed or stored with other waste where heat and oxygen is present.  Storing and compressing filters results in spontaneous combustion because there is enough oxygen to permit oxidation at a steady rate.  For example, just think about the heat that gets generated from a compost pile.

We all know that  filter maintenance is important, but how you dispose of your filters is also significant.  And you should also concern yourself with whether or not a used filter is considered hazardous waste. There are only two ways of knowing this.

  • Written documentation showing that the paint used contained non-toxic materials / metals.  A current Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), will assist in this determination.  Remember, while the filter is not considered hazardous waste, it can become hazardous once is contains hazardous materials.
  • Conducts a Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP), effectively a third-party / independent test.  If the filters come back hazardous, you must manage them as you do other hazardous waste in your shop.

A paint booth is a critical tool for a shop, and when used properly, it can help create a beautiful paint finish.  However, a shop that does not follow industry standards in maintaining its spray booth is placing its workers and its business at great risk. OSHA and EPA fines can be financially devastating . Importantly, the steps to maintaining a safe spray booths are straightforward and easily achievable without significant cost or disruption to a shop’s operation.


 Posted by at 5:32 PM

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