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Print Shops


This Industry Profile Fact Sheet is presented by the EPA Region 3 to assist state, local, and municipal agencies, and private groups in the initial planning and evaluation of sites being considered for remediation, redevelopment or reuse. It is intended to provide a general description of site conditions and contaminants which may be encountered at specific industrial facilities. This fact sheet is presented for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as a federal policy or directive.


Print shops store large quantities of inks and paper due to the nature of their service. Printing inks are a viscous to semi-solid suspension of pigments in a carrier liquid which forms a fluid or paste which can be printed on paper. The inks used in printing fall into four classes: letterpress, lithographic, flexographic and rotogravure. The letterpress and lithographic are based mainly in mineral oil, while flexographic and rotogravure use very volatile solvents.


This industry typically uses a wide variety of materials depending on what type of printing is used. Materials are often stored in large quantities; however, they are stored in small containers for convenience. These materials are often purchased directly from manufacturers or distribution centers and stored on site, often in a back storage area. Common materials used include solvents, inks and cleaning materials (which may be corrosive). The following is a list of some commonly encountered materials:

(l) - liquid


In general, there is minimal waste generated by a print shop as most of the materials are used up in the process. Waste materials are usually generated during machine cleanings or during unexpected break downs. Occasionally, stored materials may leak, resulting in contamination to the storage area, which may or may not have been addressed. Spills, leaks, and discarded material will typically migrate to and contaminate soils, stream sediments, and groundwater. Common waste products encountered at Superfund assessment and remediation projects include volatile organic compounds, waste metals (from the pigments), waste or spent corrosives (for cleaning) and solvents. Most of these compounds are in the form of sludges and/or solids as they will harden over time if not utilized. These materials may be in drums, but are often in small containers.

Additionally, contaminated building materials (i.e. rugs, walls) and the associated demolition debris may be encountered at abandoned or inactive sites. Decontamination and wipe testing of this material may be required prior to off-site landfill disposal.


All raw materials encountered on site should be visually identified and confirmed using immuno-assay, qualitative indicators, or wet chemistry field screening techniques. It should be noted that many of the raw materials containing corrosive and organic compounds may present a significant direct contact and/or inhalation hazard to assessment personnel. Visually identified contaminated areas, containers or process lines should be characterized by collecting several samples for laboratory analysis. Surface and subsurface soil sampling should be performed in the suspected contaminated areas outward to the suspected clean areas if information suggests that soils are contaminated. Once the primary contaminated areas are established, grid or random sampling may be performed to confirm the suspected clean areas. The application of non-intrusive subsurface geophysics should be evaluated to detect underground burial pits, process lines and chemical storage tanks.

On-site and local wells may be sampled if groundwater is an environmental concern. Installation of monitoring wells or other groundwater sampling techniques should be evaluated if it is necessary to fill data gaps.


Heavy Metals Analysis:

pH Analysis

Priority Pollutant Organics Analysis (volatiles, semivolatiles, pesticides/PCBs)

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization

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