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You are here: EPA Home » DfE » Bulletin 4: A Worksheet to Help You Choose a Better Wash

Bulletin 4: A Worksheet to Help You Choose a Better Wash

Industry: Lithography
Table of Contents
THIS BULLETIN HIGHLIGHTS HOW TO FIND A BETTER BLANKET WASH FOR YOUR COMPANY:
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Introduction
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There are many factors to consider when choosing a blanket wash or other press chemical that is best for your shop. Perhaps the most obvious are purchase price and performance. But there are other, less obvious factors that are just as important. How flammable is the wash? Is it a regulated material? How hazardous is it to worker health or to the environment? Even if it is cheaper to buy, a wash that is more hazardous, or one that is regulated, may have large hidden costs that make it more expensive in the end.

The worksheet contained in this bulletin identifies many of these costs, both obvious and not so obvious. Use it to compare your blanket wash options - it may help you find a blanket wash that is better for your shop.

Why A Worksheet?

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The worksheet provided with this bulletin gives you a place to keep information about the washes you try out at your shop. Make extra copies of the blank worksheet and record information about each blanket wash you test. After trying a variety of washes, you can use the completed worksheets to compare them and find the one that is best for your shop. The worksheet is not a scientific evaluation and may not cover every potential cost. If a test wash scores significantly better than your normal wash, this means the test wash might be a better choice, but does not guarantee it.

The Worksheet: How Does it Work?

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The worksheet can help you compare test blanket washes to your normal wash. Complete the worksheet after you (or your press operators) know how well the test wash works (this may take a week or two of use). When you answer the questions and add up the scores, the worksheet will tell you if the test wash may be a better choice for your shop.

All information needed for the worksheet is available from:

  • the press operators in your shop who have been using the test wash
  • the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that comes with the blanket wash
  • your blanket wash supplier
The Hidden Costs of Your Blanket Wash
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The environmental, health, and safety costs of blanket washes are often hidden. If your test wash is less harmful to your workers or the environment, or is less flammable than your current blanket wash, you may save money by using it even if it costs more per gallon.

Potential savings include:

  • Decreased regulatory costs (such as disposal costs, pollution control equipment, permitting, permitting fees, training, fines)
  • Improved worker health and safety
  • Decreased insurance costs (such as workers compensation, fire, and liability)
  • Other decreased costs (such as energy)

Choosing a Better Wash: An Example

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By testing a variety of washes you may be able to find one that is cheaper to use and better for the environment. During the DfE Lithographic Printing Partnership, a vegetable ester wash was found that worked well and cost less than a petroleum-based wash. Cost per wash was calculated based on price per gallon, time required to wash a blanket, number of towels, and amount used. Results showed the vegetable ester wash was cheaper to use per blanket than the petroleum-based wash at one facility, but was more expensive at another facility. While savings may be even greater when factors such as those on the worksheet are also considered, these mixed results show how important it is to evaluate products in your own facility.

Use the Worksheet to Choose Other Chemicals for Your Shop

The nine worksheet questions can be easily adapted to compare other chemicals, such as roller washes, you test in your shop. These nine questions are important to consider when making any chemical decisions for your facility.

Don't Give Up

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Keep in mind that the process of choosing a better blanket wash will require some experimentation and an open mind. Not every blanket wash will work well at your shop right away, but some may work better as press operators become more comfortable with them. For this reason, allow a set period of time for trying a blanket wash, and stick to it. For more ideas on cost saving ways to reduce pollution and waste at your facility, see other Design for the Environment (DfE) Bulletins for the Lithographic Industry.

Questions to Ask When You Call Your Blanket Wash Supplier

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To complete the worksheet you will need to ask your supplier some important questions: (Some blanket wash manufacturers may supply this information on the MSDS, but they are not required to do so.)
  • Does the blanket wash contain chemicals deemed hazardous under any environmental statute or OSHA?
  • What is the percent Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content of the blanket wash?
  • What is the Vapor Pressure of the wash in mmHg?

About the Design for the Environment Lithographic Printing Partnership

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The goal of the Design for the Environment (DfE) Lithographic Printing Partnership 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 Lithographic Printing Partnership, 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 Lithographic Printing Partnership, 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:

Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (PPIC)
U.S. EPA
1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (7407-T)
Washington, DC 20460-0001
Phone: 202-566-0799
FAX: 202-566-0794
E-mail: ppic@epamail.epa.gov

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