Printech Archive
Isopropanol Health Effects and SilverMaster Waste Disposal

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Date: Mon Apr 19 1999 - 08:41:57 CDT

To All:

Here is an inquiry I received and thought that the response would be

Gary Jones

1. I have heard that using alcohol in fountain solutions is bad and
people are trying to get away from using it, but what are the health hazards?
(I work in the pre-press dept. and I am little ignorant in the pressroom

2. We are using a Silvermaster activator for our Mistubishi digi plate
material and Silvermaster paper plate material. What is the proper disposal
for this waste?


The biggest safety risk associated with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is its
flammability Pure IPA has a flashpoint of 53 degrees F and must be stored and
handled with caution. OSHA has extensive regulations governing the storage
and handing of flammable and combustible substances. If you need a summary of
these, let me know.

Regarding health effects, IPA in vapor form is will cause mild irritation of
the eyes, nose, and throat. At higher concentrations, IPA can cause
drowsiness, headache, and incoordination, which are serious safety hazards
when working around moving equipment. It is for these reasons that OSHA has a
set a Permissible Exposure Limit of 400 ppm, measured over an 8-hour time
weighted average. OSHA has also established a short-term exposure limit of
500 ppm, measured over a 15-minute period.

Swallowing IPA may cause drowsiness, unconsciousness, and even death.
Gastrointestinal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also result
from swallowing IPA. The only known long-term problem associated with IPA
exposure is drying and cracking of the skin which is known as contact
dermatitis. IPA is not known to cause any other detrimental health effects,
such as cancer.

Your question regarding the disposal of SilverMaster material is a good one.
Since this material does contain a small amount of silver, you have to be
concerned about how the waste is classified relative to the hazardous waste
regulations. Wastes that contain more than 5 ppm silver are classified as
hazardous and must be managed, accumulated, and disposed according to the
regulations. The good news is that the waste plate material should not have
enough silver in it to cause it to be classified as hazardous. This should be
confirmed with either direct test results or obtaining a letter from the
supplier who has conducted the test. The test that needs to be run is the
Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP). If the waste is not
hazardous then it can be disposed as nonhazardous waste. Although there is a
minimal amount of silver in the imaged plate, there is the possibility that
it could be recycled for its residual silver content. You should be careful
about landfilling this waste as it can increase your liability due to

The best approach to disposal of the plate developing solution would be to
discharge it to the sewer. This assumes that your facility is connected to a
sewer treatment facility or POTW. You will need to meet the local discharge
limits and may have to install a silver recovery system and neutralize any
problems with pH. The type of silver recovery system depends upon the amount
and flow rate coming from the processor. If you do not discharge to a sewer
authority, then the best approach would be to collect the waste effluent and
have it sent off-site for treatment. It will most likely have to be handled
as a hazardous waste and depending upon how much hazardous waste the entire
facility generates on a monthly basis, the waste may be require a manifest.

Gary Jones

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