Thousands of auto body collision repair shops are using solvent distillation units (SDUs) or solvent recyclers to reduce costs and liabilities associated with hazardous waste management.
The EPA strongly encourages all recycling and proper waste disposal methods to protect our environment. Their research and analysis in on-site recycling and batch distillation has been an important part of national waste management policies.
The fire safety community is concerned about the process of distilling flammable and combustible chemicals. With many auto body shops using SDUs they have increased efforts to establish fire safety guidelines for SDUs.
Concerns led to manufacturers and marketers to become educators while those who opposed on-site recycling attempted to create restrictive rules within the industry. Opponents wanted SDUs to be approved only for use in special locations set up for classified hazardous use making on-site recycling financially difficult for small businesses.
With the help of environmental officials and a good safety record these negative forces have not been put into play. Safety concerns have been overcome by Underwriters Laboratories Inc (UL) developing a standard (UL Standard 2208) for SDUs to be certified for use in non-classified areas or in special classified rooms and buildings.
UL Standard 2208 establishes three categories for testing to define operation locations. Certification for use in Norman, non-hazardous locations is the hardest certification to earn because it has the strictest vapor concentrations tests. Under normal operation and under tested failure conditions, the usit must not create hazardous conditions from high vapor concentrations.
Class I, Division 2 certification means that vapor concentrations are not hazardous during normal operation, but can be hazardous during tested failure conditions.
Class I, Division 1 certification is the least desirable; this category means that under normal operation and under tested failure conditions, the unit will produce hazardous vapor concentrations and may only be used in a Class I, Division 1 area. Making an area suitable for a unit of this classification would be very expensive, requiring a specialized construction process.
Auto body shops are not classified as hazardous locations and typically, the only classified areas are the mixing rooms and spray booths. If they are using SDUs that are not certified for use in a non-hazardous location, they can expect additional expenses in providing a code-compliant location for the unit and frequent safety inspections.