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Spray Painting Efficiency Training (STAR & NESHAP)

How efficient are your painters in their spray paint application? Are they aware that a correlation exists between spray paint efficiency and money savings? How knowledgeable are they about EPA’s 6H NESHAP regulations? Do they spray with health and compliance in mind? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then getting your painters trained in spray transfer efficiency should be the way to go. The Pollution Prevention Resource Center’s (PPRC) spray efficiency half-day training, with its virtual simulator, is available for the painters in your facility to improve their technique and knowledge.

Why Train

Increasing your efficiency in spray painting is important for many reasons. Minimizing overspray lowers cost as you reduce the volume of paint mixed and sprayed.  It can reduce the release of toxic air emissions, potentially reducing health risks associated with exposure as well as impacts to the surrounding community.  Other benefits include reduced generation of hazardous waste, and even, depending on where you spray, lower permit costs.

We’re also offering this training to bi-lingual (Spanish and English) painters. For more information, see our full page on Bilingual Spray Efficiency training.


The 6H NESHAP regulation affects collision repair facilities, small and large manufacturers, and other facilities that spray coatings. The purpose of the rule is to reduce the amount of certain hazardous air pollutants emitted by these facilities. Compliance requirements include training for technicians to optimize spray application, minimize potential hazardous air emissions, proper equipment selection and maintenance practices, and proper storage and waste disposal.

Who Has Taken The Training?

You’ll find a list of facilities, shops and schools that have taken the training here.

Why Train Now?

PPRC currently has funding to provide training to qualified shops at no cost.  This is a significant savings, as the cost can run up to $2595.00 plus expenses.  We operate using a base charge and do not charge per painter.  Contact kgrimm@pprc.org (or 206-352-2050 X102) to see if your company qualifies for free training.

The Training – Part A

PPRC is currently providing Spray Technique Analysis and Research (STAR®) and NESHAP training to painters and paint instructors.  The STAR® program was developed by the Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC) at the University of Northern Iowa and is dedicated to improving the overall efficiency of manual spray coating operations by enhancing the techniques of spray technicians. STAR® addresses:

  • The importance of gun adjustments to achieve proper air and fluid pressure
  • The importance of good equipment maintenance
  • Calibration and use of the LaserTouch™ technology
  • Proper spray gun distance and orientation
  • Spray overlap and edge painting techniques to achieve maximum efficiency

The Training – Part B, Virtual Paint

In the past, the only way to educate and train painters involved costly, time consuming, and labor intense in-booth training. Today, PPRC utilizes the VirtualPaint Training System. By combining software simulation with advanced hardware technologies, the virtual simulator has greatly improved training by making it highly adaptable and, in addition, it mimics a fully-customized painting and coating production environment which makes spray application training more effective. The Training System provides realistic hands-on painter virtual reality (VR) training that can be conducted in a classroom or in a paint shop. There’s no more waiting for coating to be mixed, parts to dry, or materials to be provided to prepare for training.

Using the virtual reality training completely eliminates hazardous air emissions and paint waste. Spray painters who are trained under our program significantly reduce the proper spray application learning curve, and PPRC instructors are able to provide precise feedback benefits to both experienced and novice painters. Plus, during the virtual reality training, painters have unlimited access to practice parts and coating at the touch of a button.

The Trainers

Ken Grimm, PPRC’s Industry Outreach Manager, has completed the IWRC’s Train-the-Trainer course in addition to his nearly 20 years of industrial and automotive paint experience. During that time Ken worked as a lead painter, paint shop manager, EHS manager and facility trainer.  He has provided train-the-trainer courses to more than two dozen Community and Technical Colleges in the Pacific Northwest, as well as training to more than 250 collision repair shops and industrial facilities across the United States.

Michael Strauhal, PPRC’s Environmental Specialist, is currently being trained by Ken Grimm to assist with providing training to spray paint applicators nationwide. Michael has also taken the IWRC’s online training courses in 1) Spray Equipment and Setup, 2) Spray Technique, and 3) Booth and Filter Maintenance. Michael is accompanying Ken Grimm to all in-person trainings during his apprenticeship.

To inquire about training dates and costs you may also contact Michael at mstrauhal@pprc.org.  

NESHAP Requirements

In 2008, the EPA’s 6H NESHAP Area Source rules for surface coatings became law. This law is specifically applicable to the collision repair industry, but if you apply surface coatings to metal or plastic substrates it may very likely apply to you as well.  The 6H NESHAP includes recordkeeping requirements, new filter requirements, and both classroom and hands-on spray efficiency technique training.  It also requires the use of either Airless. Air-assisted airless, Electrostatic or HVLP spray guns or guns with equivalent transfer efficiency.  Currently there are six of those guns.  The required NESHAP training elements are met by the STAR® program, a service that PPRC provides in all of its trainings.

Does This Apply To Me?

The 6H NESHAP addresses five metals that are hazardous air pollutants.  These metals are chromium (CR), cadmium (CD), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb) and manganese (Mn).  If you spray any coating once a year that contains one of the five target metals, you are subject to these regulations.  If you are in the collision repair industry you are automatically subject to these regulations, even if you do not spray coatings containing the target metals. However, if you certify your coatings free of these metals you can apply for an exemption.  If you are not an automotive shop, but still use a paint with one of the target metals, you are also subject to 6H requirements.

Other Training Benefits

In addition to compliance with the new regulation, other benefits of this training include:

  • Health Impacts: Toxics, solvents and isocyanates can cause adverse health impacts such as enlarged lungs, irregular heartbeat, kidney failure, and nerve damage. This training can help reduce short and long-term exposure, improving employee safety and possible worker’s compensation claim issues.
  • Material Savings: Increased transfer efficiency will reduce material usage. Research in the collision repair industry has shown that the STAR program has results in an average savings of $4,200 per year per employee in 1996 dollars. An industrial facility can save as much as $40,000 or more annually. Even the most experienced painters have been shown to improve their efficiency by as much as 25% through increased attention to application techniques.
  • Environmental Impacts: Reduced emissions can result in cleaner air and better community standing. Also, improved spray efficiency generally reduces the amount of hazardous waste generated.
  • Reduced Environmental Liabilities: By reducing the pollutants emitted you can reduce your liability and potentially reduce regulatory burden and/or permit costs.

How Do You Measure Transfer Efficiency?

While we talk and focus on transfer efficiency, the truth is most painters have never actually had their transfer efficiency measured.  For a look at all the factors that can affect transfer efficiency and how to measure it, read the PPRC Rapid Response article.

Spray Efficiency Case Studies


“The state-of-the-art equipment and training have enhanced the training our instructors provide by creating parameters that are more exacting and easier to identify and measure than the common ‘eye and feel’ method. The industry will benefit greatly as the students enter industry using more efficient methods. STAR not only saves considerable cost, but it also expands the awareness and concern for the environment by saving precious resources.”
Karen Johnson, Dean for Trade and Industry, Renton Technical College

“I’ve worked with Ken Grimm of PPRC’s STAR program to host five different trainings over the last three years for auto body shops and collision repair programs at six different colleges and high schools around Idaho. The STAR program has provided a huge value to Idaho’s auto body industry, helping shops save money and materials, and comply with federal regulations and sending painters out into the workforce educated on spray efficiency techniques and other best practices.”
Joanna Pierce, Pollution Prevention Coordinator, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

Additional Information Resources

Surface Coating NESHAP (Subpart HHHHHH) Information

  • A copy of the full regulation from the EPA can be downloaded here.
  • As published in the Federal Register you can download it here.
  • A summary brochure can be downloaded from the EPA here.
  • A summary brochure can found on the EPA website.
  • To see if you qualify for an exemption click here.

IOWA Waste Reduction Center Resources

US EPA Collision Repair Campaign

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a large collection of information and tools designed to help collision repair save money while coming into compliance with the new rules.
  • EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program has a checklist for best shop practices.
  • Currently awaiting updates to remove the need for Adobe Flash, a good website for shops that showed all the different paint related areas is King County’s auto body rule tool.


Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

  • This resource is a comprehensive, plain-language manual to help shops learn about and implement various pollution prevention strategies and best management practices.

Environmental Results Programs

  • Oregon’s Eco-Biz program has both web-based information and technical assistance providers to help shops achieve Eco-Biz certification.
  • Eco-Biz has both a fact sheet and checklist to help collision repair and or mechanical repair shops address environmental issues in a manageable way.

Self Certification Checklists

These are not only useful tools for state regulations, they are also good, comprehensive lists of things you can do to improve the environmental performance of your auto body shop while saving money.

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