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Article Summary: Substitution of Organic Solvent Cleaning Agents in the Lithographic Printing Industry


The effectiveness of replacing organic solvents with vegetable oil-based cleaning agents (VCA) for cleaning offset lithographic printing presses has been evaluated at four print works. The occupational and environmental hazards and the technical performance of the organic solvents has been compared with the substitutes. The VCA have a lower environmental impact than the organic solvent cleaning agents, with lower VOC emissions and less waste produced. Occupational exposure to solvents vapours is, as expected, less with the non-volatile VCA. The main health effect is skin and mucous membrane irritation, and gloves are needed when using VCA. Slightly more physical effort is needed on the part of the operator and ergonomic risk is possibly increased. In addition, more attention needs to be paid to
housekeeping, particularly in dealing with spillage due to an increased risk of slipping. No special storage facilities are required. VCA do not affect print quality or reduce machine speed, nor do they damage the machines, although compatibility trials are usually needed. Slightly more time is needed to use them and the direct costs can be up to 15% more for the VCA. Retraining operators in the use of the VCA is essential. The environmental and occupational hygiene benefits are clear but there are ergonomic and safety implications and, as direct costs may be higher and production time possibly slightly increased, management and trade union commitment is essential for successful substitution.

I.W. Bartlett, A.J.P. Dalton, A. McGuinness, H. Palmer
Annals of Occupational Hygiene [Ann. Occup. Hyg.], vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 83-90, Feb 1999


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