A Cooperative Project
between the
U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency
and the
Printing Trade
October 1996
                                                                                 LITHOGRAPHY PROJECT BULLETIN 3
 1 How well do they perform?
 1 How much do they cost?
 1 What are the reduced health,
  fire, and environmental risks?
 ' Tips to get started in finding
  the best substitute blanket
  wash for you
 ' Questions to ask your blanket
  wash supplier
 1 How to recognize vegetable
  ester washes by their common
  names on MSDS forms
               Vegetable  Ester
               'anket  Washes
Through a series of product trials, EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE)
Lithography Project evaluated 22 different commercially available blanket
washes.  All of the washes were scrutinized for their performance,  cost, and
environmental and health characteristics.  Then each wash was categorized
based on its chemical make-up.  This bulletin highlights one category of these
blanket washes:  vegetable esters. Vegetable esters are fatty acid derivatives pro-
duced from agricultural sources, mainly soybean oil.
Use this bulletin to compare the performance, cost, and health and environmental
benefits of vegetable ester blanket washes with your current wash.  This informa-
tion can help you get started in finding the best substitute blanket  wash for you.
                                 Lower VOCs: An Important Benefit
                                    One of the biggest advantages of vegetable ester blanket washes is that they are
                                    lower in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than many standard blanket washes.
                                    VOCs are chemicals that evaporate very quickly. The faster a chemical evaporates,
                                    the faster it will get into the air during use. While standard, solvent-based washes
                                    can contain up to 100% VOCs, the VOC content of the vegetable ester washes
                                    typically ranges from 12 to 30%. This  range drops to 2% or less for vegetable
                                    ester and water mixtures.
                                 Worker health concerns
                                    The higher the VOC content of a product, the greater the chances that your
                                    workers are inhaling harmful chemicals.  Vegetable ester washes, with their low
                                    VOC content,  evaporate more slowly.  Worker exposure is less, so potential health
                                    risks are decreased.
                                                                                               Design for the Environment

What are my options for a
substitute blanket wash?

A substitute blanket wash can
be classified by its primary
chemical component. The
Design for the Environment
Lithography Project product
trials evaluated 22 substitute
blanket washes that were
classified into four different
categories of chemicals.
These washes were tested
and compared to a baseline
wash by printers in their
print shops. Some of the
characteristics of the four
categories and the baseline
are listed below:

VM&P Naphtha:
 +  quick-drying
 -  100% volatile organic compounds
    health and environmental concerns

 +  quick-drying
 -  greater than 60% VOCs
 -  health and environmental concerns
Vegetable ester:
 +   VOC content as low as 5%
 +   unprocessed towels may be treated
     as non-hazardous waste
 +   lack of odor
ester mixtures:
 +/-  VOC content less than most
     petroleum-based washes, but not
     all are less than 30% VOC
 +/-  Depending on proportion of
     petroleum, may have health
     and environmental concerns
 +   low VOC, derived from wood
     and citrus products
 +   does not deplete ozone
     odor can be irritating to press
Environmental Benefits
     The quick evaporation of VOCs can also harm the environment. VOCs are
     a major contributor to smog, and are among the most persistent emissions
     problems in the printing industry.  High-VOC washes will increase your shop's
     contribution to environmental problems.
     Just as they can improve worker safety, low-VOC vegetable esters can reduce  the
     environmental impact of your shop on your community.

A Less  Flammable Substitute
     Compared to most of the other blanket washes, vegetable  esters are much less
     flammable.  This is because they have a much higher flash point (the temperature
     at which the wash can be ignited). A less flammable blanket wash means a safer
     work environment.

     During the product trials, overall press operator opinion of the performance
     of vegetable ester washes varied but was generally favorable.  The printers found
     that the vegetable ester blanket washes handled quite differently from their
     traditional wash. Press operators discovered that a little extra  effort was required,
     but with changes in the way the wash was used,  the substitute performed as well
     as the standard wash. Some problems associated with using vegetable ester wash-
     es,  and their solutions, include:
  There is an oily film
  left on the blanket
  It takes longer to dry
  The wash is thicker
Use a wipe firmly wrung in water
instead of a dry wipe to remove the
oily film from the blanket surface

Dry the blanket with a clean
dry wipe

Give the wash enough time to soak
into the wipe by keeping a supply
of wipes and wash together in a
covered container. When ready to
use the wash-soaked wipe, squeeze
or wring the excess wash back into
the container.
  Design for the Environment

    In general, vegetable ester washes cost more per gallon than many of the other blanket wash-
    es tested.  However, it is important to remember that purchase price alone may not be the
    best indicator of the true overall cost of using a blanket wash.  Take into account the follow-
    ing factors which may affect the actual cost of a blanket wash:
How to Identify
A Vegetable Ester

These are some names for
vegetable esters that you
might find on an MSDS or
product label:

     Fatty acid methyl esters
     Diethanolamine tallate
     Sorbitan compounds
     Soybean oils
     Tall oils
   O Methyl stearates
   O Methyl oleate
     Crillet 4

Ask your supplier if you
have  questions.
        COMPLIANCE COSTS. Washes high in VOC content may yield waste—excess wash
        or used wipes—that has to be handled as regulated hazardous waste.
        Low-VOC washes such as vegetable esters may eliminate this potentially costly handling
        procedure.  Also, with lower VOCs, a facility's air emissions may drop to levels below
        the threshold amounts that require costly permitting and reporting.

        QUANTITY OF BLANKET WASH  NEEDED.  Some printers found that once experi-
        enced in using a vegetable ester wash, they often needed much less wash for a given
        job. This can mean cost savings.

        INSURANCE COSTS.  Switching to a  low-flammability vegetable ester wash
        may reduce your insurance costs.  Check with your underwriter to see if such
        benefits apply to your facility.
                                                                                                            Design for the Environment

Questions You Can Ask
Your Chemical Supplier

Ask these questions to learn more about
the blanket wash you are currently using
or a substitute blanket wash you may
consider testing:

  U What chemicals or generic chemical
    families are in the blanket wash?

  Q What percent of the blanket wash is
    volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

  Q Will the daily use and disposal
    of the blanket wash trigger federal
    air regulations?

  Q What short-term and long-term
    health risks are associated with
    the chemicals in the blanket wash?

  Q Are workers exposed to the
    chemicals through the skin and/or
    through inhaling the chemicals?

  Q What gloves or protective
    equipment should be used
    with the wash?

  Q How can blanket washes be applied
    so that  I can minimize both the
    health risk and waste generated?

  Q How do I properly dispose of the
    used blanket wash and towels?

  U What state, municipal, or local
    regulations may apply to the use
    and disposal of this blanket wash?
Partners in the Design for
the Environment Lithography
Project: Printing Industries of
America, Graphic Arts Technical
Foundation, the Environmental
Conservation Board of the
Graphic Communications Industry.
The University of Tennessee, and
individual printers and suppliers.

  Design for the Environment
Where Do I Go From Here?

Q Get to know yoir current wash. Look at product labels and material safety data sheets (MSDS) and ask
  your supplier the questions listed to the left, so that you can leam:
       » The chemicals or chemical families
         The VOC content
         The health and environmental impacts
         The regulatory issues

E] Work with your supplier to evaluate substitute washes
       » Question your supplier about substitute washes (see left)
         Work with your supplier to optimize the wash performance
         Use the summary booklet, Evaluating Blanket Washes: A Guide For Printers, for
          additional information (see below for ordering information)

S Try out substitute blanket washes
         Follow supplier suggestions on how to use substitutes properly
       » Try the substitute blanket wash with different ink types, ink coverages, conditions
          of the blanket, and lengths of runs  prior to blanket cleaning
         Expect cost and performance to improve as you optimize the washing technique
       » Use the "Substitute Blanket Washes: Making Them Work"  bulletin for information
          on different washing techniques (see below for ordering information)

C3 Compare your traditional wash with  your favorite substitute wash
         Compare cost, performance,  and health and environmental impacts of your
          traditional wash with the substitute  wash
         Use the "A Worksheet To  Help You Choose A Better Wash" bulletin for additional
          information (see below for ordering information)

 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  booklet, 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.
   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) 260-4656                              DfE Web page: http://www.epa.gov/dfe