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Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 2003 Aug;18(8):597-619.

The development of substitute inks and controls for reducing workplace concentrations of organic solvent vapors in a vinyl shower curtain printing plant.

Author information

  • 1National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

Abstract

During the summer of 1994, football players at a practice field reported noxious odors in the area. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) investigations of industries surrounding the field included a printing facility producing vinyl shower curtains with screen-printed designs. Though not the source of the odor, they were discharging volatile organic compounds directly to the environs in violation of OEPA regulations. To achieve compliance they installed a catalytic oxidizer for treating discharged air. Due to high equipment costs, the capacity of the installed catalytic oxidizer resulted in a substantial reduction in discharged air flow rates and increased solvent vapor concentrations within the workplace. Vapor levels caused worker discomfort, prompting a request for assistance from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. The vapor concentrations were found to exceed NIOSH, OSHA, and ACGIH acceptable exposure levels. The workers were then required to wear organic vapor removing respirators full-time while printing as a temporary protective measure. The company requested NIOSH assistance in finding methods to reduce solvent vapor concentrations. NIOSH studies included the identification of the sources and relative magnitude of solvent emissions from the printing process, the design of controls for the emissions, and the development of substitute inks using non-photochemically reactive solvents. The new ink system and controls allowed OEPA removal of the requirement for the treatment of discharged air and substantial increases in dilution ventilation. Increased ventilation would permit reduction in worker exposures to less than 1/3 mixture TLV levels and removal of requirements for respirator usage. This solution was the result of a comprehensive review of all facets of the problem, including OEPA regulations. It also required cooperative work between the company and federal, state, and local governmental agencies.

PMID:
12851010
DOI:
10.1080/10473220301412
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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