Collision Industry Action Group
Mechanical Repairs
Specialized Services
Consumer Info
Art of Earning
Internet Training
Parts Trader
Discussion Forum
Contact Us / Membership
Members Only
Advertising Info
Solvent Database
Labour Complaints
Aftermarket Parts
Small Parts
Not Included
Inspection Stations
Insight CANADA



Solvents, Ontario



Ignoring MSDS Sheets Can Be a Dangerous Proposition

I am writing this hoping it will save someone their health and maybe their life. Take the time to read and consider what I have to say. I have been an automotive painter for 23 years and I have been in excellent health until 11 months ago when I was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which was brought on by exposure to toxic paint fumes and smoking. The reason I am telling you this is in hopes that if any painters read this, PLEASE, PLEASE read your MSDS sheets and follow exactly what it says regarding exposure to the paint chemicals.

All my life I have painted with straight enamel and acrylic enamels, and when I would use the paints that required the hardeners and activators, I made sure that I had an air supplied respirator. I have always been self employed and had to watch out for myself. In June of 99, I went to work for a small family owned auto body shop in a different town. After working at this company for several months, the company switched to a secondary paint system that would allow us to use base coat clear systems, 2k urethane etc. I was the company's lead painter so I did 97% of the painting at the shop.

The company I worked for failed to provide the proper safety equipment for my protection and the protection of others in the shop who might be exposed to these chemicals. I painted with these paints for 9 months before I realized what was happening to me. For months I had been feeling weak, short of breath, having chest pains and bad headaches. I assumed I was over worked, I was driving 130 miles a day to get to my job and home again. In July, I collapsed for a few minutes in the paint booth and went home. I was put into the hospital and later informed that I had emphysema and lung damage from inhaling paint fumes.

I have the official reports in my hand from OSHA, and the EPA. When the doctors notified [these agencies] that they had someone who had been exposed to toxic chemicals, the agencies went in and performed a check on the business. The company was found in violation of not having proper safety equipment, no air supplied respirators, improperly disposing of the old paint (which the EPA deemed to be hazardous waste), and not having proper ventilation in our paint mixing room. I was slowly being exposed to all of this every day that I worked, which most of the time was 9 to 10 hours a day and 4 to 5 hours on Saturdays.

I mention the fact that I smoked. Most painters that I know of do smoke. The problem is, when you spray these chemicals unprotected, these chemicals react to the smoking and you get hit harder and faster than you normally would. An article published by the Canadian Lung Association has reported that these chemicals react faster to smokers who are exposed to them and will cause them respiratory and heart problems. I have not worked for 11 months now and just finished going through four months of lung rehabilitation three times a week, and I have to go back for more lung rehab and no one knows how long this will last.

There is no cure for this disease called COPD and it's made worse when you have chemical induced damage to your lungs. What I want to impress to all painters is, if you must use these chemicals, and your employer doesn't supply you with the proper safety equipment and especially an air mask, DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT spay this stuff. It doesn't matter how many times they tell you it's safe or that you will lose your job if you don't paint it, it's not worth it. DO NOT believe them when they say that a half face respirator will protect you, IT WON'T. READ THE MSDS SHEETS, if they say the use of an air supplied respirator is recommended, BELIEVE IT and don't paint without it. It would have been a lot easier for me to come home and tell my wife and kids that I got fired because I wouldn't take a chance with my health and some bills may get behind, rather than have a doctor look my wife in the eye and tell her and my kids and grandkids that I have this disease and it will wind up killing me and there's nothing they can do about it. When he tells your wife that it could have been avoided by having the proper equipment, that's a hard and bitter pill to take and deal with. Was the paycheck worth it? NO. Your life isn't worth a paycheck.

Please, Please, if you find yourself using these new high-powered automotive paints and solvents, FOLLOW THE MSDS SHEETS, they will save your life. Thank you for reading this and I wish all the wonderful and talented automotive painters out there all the luck in the world.

Ronald Perry Jr. has been a painter for 23 years, a husband and father for 22 years and a grandfather for two years. He currently resides in Lynchburg, Virginia

Copyright 2001 by CollisionWeek. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means without permission in writing from the publisher.

Downloadable MSDS Examples

Most manufacturers provide their MSDS sheets online, a few examples are listed below :



Akzo Nobel

Matrix System

Martin Senour

DuPont - Click on Product Info



April 2001

A new proposal from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment's Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Branch will require that all auto refinish facilities report the emissions of each type of VOC in their paint applications effective January 1, 2002.

This action is being taken as part of the Anti-Smog Action Plan to reduce smog emissions and particularly VOC emissions from paint spraybooths.

Paint spray booth emissions in Ontario are estimated 6000 tons per year of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC).

The cost of shops reporting has been estimated at $3000-$5000 per shop.

As a result the Hamilton District Autobody Repair Association (HARA) has met with the Ministry a number of times to discuss a fairer and cheaper process of reporting.

As well HARA has filed a report with the Red Tape Commission of Ontario to identify the financial hardships that facilities would be forced to endure, hiring engineers or environmental consultants in order to handle the reporting requirements.

In response to HARA's concerns the Ministry announced last November that only shops that use over 3000 kilograms of coatings product or 3000 kilograms of solvent need actually report. That meant only shops using 50 litters per week or more needed to consider reporting.

HARA has also proposed the creation of a solvent database in conjunction with the Environmental Assessment and Approvals branch of the Ministry, to act as a template for shops to identify their emissions in the future. HARA expects the cost of those shops that do have to report their emissions to be less than $200 if they use the template databases instead of the $3000 to $5000 it will cost if the shop has to hire a consultant or an engineer to do the work.