Printech Archives, November 1997: Re: IPA content in fountain solution

Re: IPA content in fountain solution

Frantz-ENV, George (
Mon, 10 Nov 97 9:43:08 EST


The replacement (or reduction) of IPA in fountain solutions has been
occurring for several years, and is a fairly easy P2 operation, and has very
large potential impact for industry-wide emission reductions (depending on
current practice).

IPA has been used for decades as a simple but effective wetting agent in
fountain solutions. It was regarded as the largest source of emissions from
lithographic printing (USA) until recently. Since the introduction of good
alcohol substitutes, alcohol use has dropped dramatically (along w/

It was formerly used at levels ranging from 10-25% with fountain
concentrates. Now, it's fairly easy to operate at levels of 5% for
unrefrigerated and 8% for refrigerated (62 deg F) solutions. Actually, it's
very do-able to run w/ 0% alcohol, using the replacement entirely.

Caution, though, many substitutes use 2-butoxyethanol (butyl cellosolve) as
the foundation for the alcohol substitute. It's considerably more toxic than
IPA (OSHA PEL of 400 ppm for IPA vs 10 ppm for 2-bte), but NIOSH studies done
in the printing industry show that exposures are generally below any danger
threshold. There's been some talk about replacements using a different base,
but I don't have much info on that yet.

Primary considerations in making the switch without much trouble is to
carefully monitor the pH and conductivity of your solution (and makeup
water), and generally, run a lower durometer roller in the dampening system.

George Frantz MA/OTA 617-727-3260 x631 (fx) 617-727-3827



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