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Control of press cleaning solvent emissions in small lithographic printing establishments.

Crouch KG
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 9-15, 1998, Atlanta, Georgia. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1998 May; :29
The printing industry is comprised of about 80-85% small businesses (<20 employees). More printing is done using the lithographic process than any other. In this segment of small lithographic printing establishments, NIOSH has found a persistent occurrence of overexposure and potential overexposure of press operators to the airborne vapors generated by press cleaning operations. The cleaning operation must be carried out periodically during a press run by hand-scrubbing the blanket and plate with solvent-soaked wipers. High volatility and solubility for ink are valuable solvent characteristics, so that printing is interrupted minimally. The solutions used to clean presses are a highly variable mixture of chemicals, a small number of which may have carcinogenic potential (e.g., methylene chloride). Recent EPA regulations have resulted in the development of cleaning solvents having lower volatility, thus reducing worker exposures in some cases. However, small printers typically have no provision for an adequate supply of conditioned fresh air necessary to dilute the airborne solvent vapors to safe concentrations while maintaining temperature and humidity in a range suitable for comfort and good printing. NIOSH conducted studies of airborne solvent concentrations at three small printers before and after the installation of fresh air systems having an air-to-air heat exchanger for economy of operation. In one case, the fresh air was introduced to the press room at one end and stale air exhausted from the other end. In a second case, the fresh air was fed to the return air side of the press room HVAC system and the exhaust was taken from points several feet above the operating presses. In the third case, the fresh air was introduced from several ceiling outlets, the exhaust provided by inlets attached to the bed of the presses. The resulting reduction in airborne solvent concentration ranged from about 30-80%. In addition, airborne solvent concentrations at two small printing establishments that supplied unconditioned fresh air from window units were found at an acceptable level.
Small-businesses; Printing-industry; Ventilation; Ventilation-equipment; Ventilation-systems; Cleaning-compounds; Solvent-vapors; Vapors; Industrial-ventilation; Exhaust-ventilation; Printers; Printing-inks; Printing-presses; Machine-operation; Machine-operators; Carcinogens; Volatiles; Industrial-processes; Industrial-exposures; Employee-exposure; Regulations; Industrial-emission-sources; Industrial-emissions
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 9-15, 1998, Atlanta, Georgia
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division