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Safer Auto and Body Shops Projects

Project Details

Year: 2011, 2007
Location: Boston, Watertown
Project Manager: Paul Shoemaker and Tiffany Skogstrom, Boston Public Health Commission; Gerard Cody, Watertown
Partners: Forest Hills Auto Service, Jendriel Collision Center, Mattapan Auto Collision, Avenue Auto Body, Inc, J.P. Auto Body, Keegan's Service Station, E&J Auto Tech, M.C. Auto Repair, L&S Auto Services, Talbot Collision Center

Boston Projects - Help Auto and Body Repair Shops Find Safer Alternatives

The Boston Public Health Commission worked with auto body and repair shops to replace products that contain toxics such as toluene and perchloroethylene with a trial of non-toxic, water-based alternatives. Five auto body shops agreed to try samples of an aqueous paint-gun cleaner and five auto repair shops implemented a water-based brake cleaning system. 

The auto repair shops replace perchloroethylene-based brake cleaners with either a water-based brake cleaning sink from Safety-Kleen or alternative aerosol spay cleaners recommended by TURI. The results of evaluation surveys and participants’ success stories were shared to encourage other shops to switch to the safer products.

The team also worked with auto body shops to use an alternative spray gun cleaner recommended by the US EPA. The chemical, Acrastrip 400 made by US Polychemical Corp., is a less toxic alternative than lacquer thinner or mineral spirits, which contain hazardous chemicals such as toluene, acetone, and xylene. This replacement greatly improved the air quality in the shops. The TURI Laboratory conducted performance testing of the safer alternatives. 

As a result of their work, the BPHC developed a Safe Shop's Project Toxics Use Reduction Network Tool Kit

Watertown Project - Replacing Lead Wheel Weights and Solvent-based Brake Cleaners

The City of Watertown Health Department built on resources developed by the Boston Public Health Commission to provide education and training on using safer alternatives for auto shop owners in Watertown. The project team worked with selected auto shops to pilot test safer alternatives to lead wheel weights and solvent-based brake cleaners.

U.S. auto manufacturers are in the process of converting to steel weights but local auto shops still rely largely on lead wheel weights, which are hazardous for the environment and for workers. Lead-free weights such as tin, zinc and steel were provided to the auto shops to test performance and encourage replacement.

This page updated Friday February 04 2022
Project Materials