Paint-booth filters are often dangerous waste. Historically, toxic metals such as cadmium, chromium and lead have been used in paint pigments. These metals may still be present in some primers or other specialized coatings and end up in your filters.
Also, halogenated organic compounds (HOCs) may be used as flame retardants in the filters or as ingredients in paint. Some filters use HOCs in the manufacturing process, so the filters have very high levels of HOCs before they have ever been used.
Test your filters when it is time to change them. If you are inspected, you may be asked to show a report proving your filters are not dangerous waste. Here's how:
Cut a one-foot square piece from the dirtiest part of the filter or bank of filters, and seal it in a plastic bag. Protect yourself from hazardous dusts during this process.
Request SW-846 Method 1311, Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) for Metals if you suspect your primer contains lead, chrome or cadmium. Check the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) or talk to your paint manufacturer if you are unsure.
If your lab results show that your paint booth filters don’t designate as dangerous waste, then you may throw them in the garbage. If they do designate as dangerous waste, they must be handled as dangerous waste and counted towards dangerous-waste accumulation. Small-quantity generators should contact the local landfill for local disposal requirements. If the source of the dangerous waste can be identified and eliminated, waste filters generated in the future may be authorized for disposal as regular garbage.
Auto Body Pilot Technical Assistance Manual is from the Environmental Results Program pilot of the Local Source Control Project and contains information on paint-booth filters.
Paints & Coatings Resource Center is an industry-government partnership for painting and coating professionals.
Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/copyright.html.