Compared to other finishes, powder coating does not contain harmful solvents and is therefore safer to transport, handle, apply and dispose of.
But, there are still basic safety steps you should take to ensure you are using powder coating safely.
If you have any concerns about the safe use and application of powder coatings, you should consult a powder coating specialist.
What Makes Powder Coatings Safe?
Powder coatings contain a mixture of polymer resin, fillers, curatives and pigments. They are solvent-free, which means the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) they contain is negligible.
Volatile organic compounds are compounds that can easily become gases or vapours when released from burning fuel, or by evaporating at room temperature. They are found in products such as adhesives, preservatives, cleaning chemicals and paints.
These carbon-based chemicals include benzene, acetone, methylene chloride and xylene. Fumes from VOCs can be harmful to health, and pose a considerable risk to people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.
Short-term exposure can cause various irritations, while longer-term, chronic exposure may lead to serious organ damage.
In contrast with various liquid paint products that contain VOCs, powder coatings are much safer, and therefore using them reduces risks associated with applying liquid paint coatings.
Powder coating has no known health hazards, short or long-term.
Are There Environmental Benefits to Powder Coating?
Powder coatings have a low environmental impact because they are non-toxic.
Containing no solvents, they are inert and straightforward to dispose of, without posing any environmental risks; and because they release no VOCs, they will not harm the environment. They do not contribute to air pollution.
The uniform finishes power coatings provide also mean that they reduce the need for repeated applications, thereby preserving resources.
Liquid paint, on the other hand, can require subsequent applications, which generate more hazardous, solvent-based emissions and waste.
Where faults do occur in powder paint application, remedying them is easy, and does not involve using a large number of resources.
Before the curing stage, you can simply wipe the powder clean, or remove it using compressed air, before reapplying it.
And where there is any waste powder, you can easily sweep this up and keep it for later use.
How do You Stay Compliant with Powder Coating?
It is straightforward to dispose of powder coating without the risk of infringing any environmental regulations.
It meets environmental protection standards because it is inert and non-toxic. It is not classified as a spill hazard and requires no special storage facilities.
If, during application, you end up over-spraying and leaving extra unused, this is easy to sweep up and collect, ready for reuse.
You can reclaim overused powder spray from surfaces and spray booth filters.
What are Best Practices for Powder Coating Use?
Using a dedicated powder spray booth enables you to control air-flow accurately, eliminate the risk of airborne contaminants during the powder coating process, and helps ensure the best possible performance from your powder coating.
It also helps you manage health and safety risks.
Although powder coatings are non-toxic, there are risk associated with their use, including:
- Dust explosion
- Electric hazards
To manage the risk of electrical hazards, make sure your grounding systems are in good working order, and do not allow powder spraying equipment to over-heat, leading to an electrical shock or fire.
Dust concentration is another thing you must monitor carefully. You should always operate within safe limits for airborne dust, and check for any ignition sources, such as electrostatic charges or hot surfaces.
It takes certain concentrations of powder substances to make them hazardous, so you should always be working within a safe range.
Generally, ignition temperatures for powder-air concentrations are very high, at 500°C.
How Safe are Powder Coatings?
Powder coatings are non-toxic and non-hazardous to the environment. But they do require safe application.
If you follow best working practices, they should prove to be highly cost effective as durable coatings for different metal substrates and objects.