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alternatives to lead in autobody work

Hi Guys,

Has anyone any leads on getting lead out of automobile coatings?  Have you any experience or comments on emerging technologies for this industry?

The following is from a fact sheet published in Australia describing the use of lead in automobile coatings.  It is from this website:  http://www.deh.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality/lead/autopaints.html .

A google search (okay, I confess I use google sometimes) offers a pretty good selection for consideration of lead-free enamels using zinc or bismuth vanadates or metal oxides, but it all looks pretty unproven for high performance.  Then there is Green Chemistry Award Winner POWERCRON 8000 at http://www.ppg.com/car_indcoat/greenchemistry.htm which uses yttrium instead of lead!  Also described at http://www.ppg.com/car_indcoat/ts_mercedes.htm, what is this stuff?

I understand Cindy McComas has experience with lead-free porcelain coatings. Oh, I guess that would show coffee stains.

Janet Clark


Lead in auto paints

Lead colouring agents have been used for many years in auto enamels and lacquers. The highest levels of lead are found in the orange, red and yellow tones, where concentrations of more than 20% are common.

The pigments used in these highly coloured paints are based on lead sulphochromate and molybdate lead chromate. They are opaque and can be ground into fine particles, making them ideal for the high-gloss paints used on cars. They are also durable and resistant to ultra-violet light.

For older cars, the refinish industry can only provide accurate colour matches to vehicles that currently have paint containing lead on them by using the same lead-based pigments. If you are using these products you should be careful when sanding-down old paints and when spraying with new ones. Some older cars may also contain lead auto-body filler.

Lower concentrations of lead are present in the greens, browns and beiges.

Auto paints may also contain lead in the form of lead driers (at levels up to 0.5% by weight). They are used on trucks and commercials, and in anti-corrosive pigments in some primers used on new cars.

Many of the paints sold in aerosol cans as touch-up paints contain lead. These spray packs are used by car owners to camouflage small areas of damage.


Janet Clark
Toxics Use Reduction Institute,  University of Massachusetts
One University Ave,     Lowell, MA 0`854-2866
Tel 978-934-3346,                                      Fax 978-934-3050

Adjusted for production, TURA filers have decreased their toxic chemical use by 45% and
are generating 69% less byproducts. During this same eleven years,  core TURA filers reported
an overall 45% increase in production!