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The History Of Industrial Coatings And Public Safety

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Industrial painting services and coatings have a history stretching back to the Industrial Revolution. In fact, the first paint factory in North America was built in Boston decades before the creation of America. By the turn of the millennium, the industry earned more than $20 billion every year, and employs 316,000 workers in the U.S. alone.

And even though most consumers have never even heard of industrial protective coatings, virtually every American regularly uses products that have industrial coatings of some kind. Besides common consumer goods, everything from the tanks we use to store our fuel, water towers, bridges, and thousands of other structures utilize coatings for safety purposes. Exterior painters use protective coatings to prevent leaks and chemical exposure, extend the life of important products and infrastructure, and protect people all over the world from the dangers of fire.

Can industrial protective coatings be toxic?

There’s some misconception about the hazards of industrial protective coating, partly because of more dangerous chemicals used in bygone eras of lax safety regulations. Two major safety milestones have changed the chemicals used in common coatings.

  • In the 1950s, the industry voluntarily set stricter standards governing the use of lead pigments. In particular, an effort was made to remove lead from paints used in the home.
  • And in 1978, the Consumer Product Safety Commission made the standard official, banning lead from all consumer paints and coatings altogether. Furthermore, in the 1980s new regulations cracked down on “volatile organic compound emissions” from coatings, leading to safer, high-tech new materials becoming the industry standard.
  • A number of private organizations, like the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) help the government regulate the materials used by the industry to better protect U.S. consumers.

What are the primary uses of industrial protective coatings?

There are a number of uses, but let’s focus on two major functions: preventing corrosion and fire safety.

Corrosion: Steel is often coated to prevent corrosion, and city, state, and federal governments often use coatings to extend the life of vital public infrastructure, such as water towers or bridges. These coatings are vital to protecting public safety and saving taxpayers money. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that 80% of of premature coating failures on bridges are caused by deficient materials developed prior to new regulations.

Fire Safety: Fire retardant coatings are applied all over the country to reduce the risk of fire. By preventing the start or spread of fire, these industrial protective coatings can help save lives — safety first!

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