Masking Lacquer Odor

A spray operation near a residential neighborhood seeks ways to improve the smell of its exhaust. June 10, 2006

I have a friend who has a commercial spray booth in a residential area. New neighbors just moved in and they object to the smell every time he sprays, particularly pre catalyzed lacquers like Campbell and KemVar. Now the Board of Health is involved and they suggested he filter the smell out. Is this possible? He's currently running a conventional booth with conventional filters with exit air to exterior. I don't think there are any filters capable of scrubbing the smell. He only finishes once in awhile, not daily.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor H:
Commercial spray booth in residential area? Sounds more like a zoning issue. Vent to the other side of the building or vent out on to the roof. If he is within his zoning the new neighbors are not going to be able to do much. A charcoal filter might remove some of the smell.

From contributor S:
Mark, is his exhaust stack above roof line (10') to catch prevailing wind? If he must spray solvent lacquers, adding a vanilla or lavender extract can help some. If he is residential he may be forced to use water base lacquers.

From contributor S:
I would be afraid to add things to the lacquer, especially a food product. You know what happens when you add mineral spirits to lacquer, or even too much retarder. That's just me. The stack needs to be 1.5 times the roof height, per code in our area. 20' roof = 30' stack.

And Mark, to be quite blunt, I have had the same problem in a business park, zoned for manufacturing. It is going to cost me a lot of money to resolve this issue. If he is making money I have little sympathy for him. This is the cost of doing business. And again, quite bluntly, if he has a family, he does not need to be subjecting his family to these fumes.

I have had to face these same issues myself. Regulations make it difficult for the small business to be profitable. Your friend might want to do what many of us do - find a place where he can spray and comply with codes.

From contributor B:
Gemini makes a line of precats and post cats that come with the "cotton candy" or "vanilla" smell already in the bucket. It really helps with finicky sprayers and may help with the neighbors.

From contributor J:
One suggestion would be trying a water bath booth.

From contributor W:
I had suggested an elevated stack too as that seems to be the commercial solution. Adding a scent sounds temptingly simple but can it really be effective? As for the related issues, yes, it is a zoning issue but he's lived and worked there his entire life and he has no real choice, he's barely making it as is. He's just a one man show.

From contributor G:
Mark the two easiest smells are "vanilla or lavender". Get these from your coating distributor and charcoal filters. Filters work, but are cost prohibitive and somewhat work sporadically. As far as a water wash spray booth they are expensive. They are somewhat outdated also because of added issues of maintenance cost and local disposal.

From contributor E:
I think the neighbors complain about the smell because that's the only legal complaint they can make. They would probably prefer he wasn't there. As said above, the Gemini has a nice smell to it. My wife says it smells like fresh cookies. I would try to spray at night late or when the wind is blowing away from those neighbors.

From contributor H:
The best shot is to elevate the stack and bump the motor on the exhaust fan if necessary. I have heard about putting velocity cones on booths that jet the air up further in to the atmosphere. Charcoal filters can get costly.