A Cooperative Project
between the
U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency
and the
Printing Trade
August 1996
EPA 744-F-96-002
                                                                    LITHOGRAPHY PROJECT BULLETIN 1

• Will Substitutes Increase My Cost?

•What Makes Substitutes Different?

• Common Questions About Substitute
 Blanket Washes and Their Answers
        iis BULLETIN

•Why Substitute Blanket Washes?

•Don't Give Up Too Soon

•About the Lithography Project
                  "Blanket Washes
Why Consider Substitute Blanket Washes?

      One of the largest sources of air pollution in lithographic print shops

      is the blanket washes used to clean the blankets on the press. Many of

      these products contain volatile organic compounds,

      Of V vJ v^S, which help them work well and dry quickly.  However,

      they pass into the air in the press room, the lungs of people working there,

      and the outside air. Dirty wipes soaked with blanket washes can also cause air

      pollution in the shop and health and environmental problems at the industrial

      laundries that pick them up. Because of these chemicals, both printers and

      laundries may have trouble complying with environmental regulations.
                               New substitute blanket washes are available that are 83,1(31  for workers

                               and for the environment, and can result in lower costs for printers. When press

                               operators learn how to use these new washes, the substitutes can work as well

                               as the  standard blanket washes.  To get good results, though, press operators

                               must often change the way they use blanket washes. This bulletin aims to help

                               you, the press operators, shop managers and environmental compliance man-

                               agers,  make these new products work for you.
                                                                                Design for the Environment

What Makes Substitute Blanket
Washes Different From Regular
Blanket Washes?
Compared to older high-VOC
washes, a substitute blanket
wash that you should look for
would contain less VOCs and no
HAPs. The substitute wash will
probably evaporate less quickly
which means that it will be less
likely to reach people and the
environment through the air.
Traditional blanket washes are
often made primarily with VOCs.
In comparison, the substitute
blanket washes may be made
from vegetable oils and/or their
fatty acid esters, terpenes, less
volatile petroleum components,
or mixtures of one or more
of these.
  Design for the Environment
Why Should I Be Concerned About VOCs?

     VOCs can be unhealthy  to breathe over iong periods
     of time.  They can also 113,1111  the environment by helping
     form smog, which damages crops and forests.  Smog also affects human health
     by injuring the lungs.  In addition, some blanket washes contain chemicals
     called Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs).  They are known to cause, or are
     suspected of causing, harm to human health or the environment.
     By using substitute blanket washes containing less VOCs, you can significantly
     reduce the impacts that your printing operations have on employee health
     and the environment.  You may also be  able to reduce your regulatory
     requirements.  To find out the VOC content and other components of
     your current blanket "wash, ask your supplier or check the product
     Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).  Suppliers can recommend
     substitutes containing less VOCs.
Will Substitute Blanket Washes Increase My Costs?
     Many substitute washes in fact do cost more per gallon, making them seem
     more expensive to use.  However, when press operators are tfaiHeCl
     in how tO USe  these                      products, they often
     use fflUCil leSS wash than was needed with a regular blanket wash.  An
     example of this is SUBSPRINT, a European program which seeks to eliminate
     the use of organic solvents in the printing industry.  Two of the SUBSPRINT-
     Project partner companies showed that with training, blanket wash consumption
     can be cut by as much as 80% when compared to older methods using high
     VOC products.  Some of the techniques developed through their project are
     described in this bulletin. Such reductions in blanket wash consumption can
     result in both real cost savings and a healthier work environment for printers.
     Another potential cost benefit of switching to a substitute blanket wash is
     that it may lower the costs of complying with environmental requirements. By
     reducing the amount of blanket wash you use, your shop's total VOC emissions,
     or the amounts of regulated chemicals in your blanket wash formulation, you
     could lower your shop's air emissions to levels below the threshold amounts
     that require permitting or reporting.

New Techniques For New Products
        When you first use a substitute blanket wash, you may find that it looks, smells,
        and handles quite differently from your traditional wash.  Do not let these differ-
        ences stop you.  With slight changes in the way you use your wash, you will find that
        the substitute can perform as well as your standard product. Printers should ask their
        suppliers what substitute blanket washes they offer and how to use them properly.
        Some of the more common questions raised by volunteer printers during the Design for
        the Environment
What can I do about the oily film left behind?

        Substitute blanket washes can leave an oily film on the
        blanket. Some believe that this film has little or no effect
        on the printed image, and disappears after three or four
        sheets are passed through the press.

        • Experiment to see if the film is actually causing a
        ' Use a firmly wrung water-soaked wipe instead of a dry
         wipe to remove the oil film from the blanket surface.
What can I do about the longer drying time?

        By their nature, substitute blanket washes are low in
        VOCs and do not evaporate (or dry) very quickly. This
        is what keeps the wash from entering the air around
        the press and the outside environment.


        • Dry the blanket with a clean dry wipe. Although this
         extra step requires more time and effort to clean the
         blanket, the money saved from less blanket wash
         evaporating, and the environmental and health benefits,
         will probably outweigh this disadvantage.
How do I get the substitute wash to work as well
as my traditional wash?

        A particular substitute blanket wash, when used the
        same way as standard washes, may seem less effective.
        However, a substitute blanket wash can perform as well
        as your standard product if you change the way you use it.

        • Shop around and try different substitute products until
         you find the one that works best.
        ' Let the blanket wash set on the blanket for a short time
         after being applied.
        • On two-color and multi-color presses, apply the blanket
         wash to all the blankets and then go back to wipe it off
         of each blanket in the same order.
        ' Wipe the blanket with a firmly wrung water-soaked wipe
         before you start cleaning.  This will remove some of the
         excess  ink as well as any paper lint.
How can I make the thicker substitute wash
easier to use?
        Some of the substitute blanket washes are thicker and
        more oily than traditional washes, and may not absorb
        as quickly into shop wipes.


        • Give the wash enough time to soak into the wipe.
        • Keep a supply of shop wipes and substitute wash
         mixed together in a covered container. Then use
         the wash-soaked wipes, squeezing or wringing as
         much wash as possible back into the container.
         This  method may actually help you reduce the
         amount of wash you use.
Do the washes also work on ink rollers?
        Many of the volunteer printers said they prefer to use
        the same wash on their blankets as they do on their
        rollers, ink trays, impression cylinders, and printing
        plates.  Many, but not all, substitute washes can  be
        used throughout offset presses.


        • Check with the product supplier to be sure that the
         product can be used as a roller wash and is compatible
         with the other components of your press.
        • Using substitute washes effectively on other parts of
         your press may require changes in your technique, as
         in blanket washing.
        • Ask the supplier for information on the techniques best
         suited to each product.
What should I do if my substitute blanket wash
has a strong or unusual odor?

        Some of the substitute washes, especially the terpene-
        based washes made from citrus products, may have a
        different or strong smell. However, many press operators
        who have switched to a substitute product say that they
        prefer the smell of the substitute to the strong solvent
        smell of a traditional wash. Regardless of the wash you
        use, there are several steps that can be taken to reduce
        odor problems you may encounter.

        • Increase the ventilation (around the press or the
         source of the odor).
        • Use as little blanket wash as possible and avoid spills.
        • Cover blanket wash and used wipe containers.
        • If odor continues to be a problem, try different
         substitute products to find one that works best  for you.
                                                                                                            Design for the Environment

                                       Don't Give  Up Too Soon
                                            Every printer changing to substitute blanket washes needs to get  xperience
                                            with the new cleaning techniques.  Printers should follow the supplier's instruc-
                                            tions and consult with other printers using the same products.  Ultimately,
                                            though, you will need to determine for yourself what
                                                      At first, the differences may seem awkward and time-consuming.  But
                                            many printers have shown that substitute blanket washes perform as well as
                                            standard washes after the initial adjustment.  As you are getting used to the new
                                            products, keep in mind that your efforts may
                                            reduce your blanket wash
                                            consumption, create a safer, healthier
                                            work place, help improve the
                                            environment, and reduce your costs.
                                    About the Design for the Environment Lithography Project

                                    The goal of the Design for the Environment (DfE) Lithography Project is to provide lithographers
                                    with information that can help them design an operation which is more environmentally sound,
                                    safer for workers, and more cost effective.

                                    Concentrating on the process  of blanket washes, the partners of the DfE Lithography Project,
                                    in a voluntary cooperative effort, evaluated 37 different blanket wash products. Information was
                                    gathered on the performance, cost, and health and environmental risk trade-offs of the different
                                    types of substitute blanket wash. For more details on the evaluations,
                                    please refer to the "Evaluating Blanket Washes:  A Guide For Printers."

                                    In addition to the Lithography Project, similar DfE projects are currently
                                    underway with both the screen printing and flexography industries.
Design for the Environment
                                      To obtain additional copies of this or other bulletins and case studies, or for more information about
                                      EPA's Design for the Environment Program contact:
                                                        EPA's Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (PPIC)
                                                                             U.S. EPA
                                                                      401 M Street, SW (7409)
                                                                       Washington, DC 20460
                                              Phone: (202) 260-1023                          E-mail: ppic@epamail.epa.gov
                                              Fax: (202) 260-4659                            DfE Web page: http://www.epa.gov/dfe