Determination of BTEX by GC–MS in Air of Offset Printing Plants: Comparison between Conventional and Ecological Inks

13 November 2019

Godoi, A.F.L., Sawada, E.Y., de Marchi, M.R.R., Van Grieken, R., Godoi, R.H.M.

Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 2009, 9(3-4), 163–169.

The use of inks containing organic solvents by the offset printing process implies in the release of volatile organic compounds to the work environment. Many of these compounds such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and the xylene isomers (well known by the acronym BTEX) are extremely toxic. In this study, the BTEX concentrations were determined in two different printing plants that use distinct types of inks: the conventional and the so-called ecological, which is manufactured based on vegetal oil. Concentration ranges were 43–84, 15–3,480, 2–133, 5–459, and 2–236 μg·m−3 for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, m + p-xylene, and o-xylene, respectively, for the conventional printing plant. At the ecological printing plant, concentration ranges were below limit of detection (<LD)-31, <LD-618, <LD-1,690, <LD-10,500, <LD-3,360 μg·m−3 for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, m + p-xylene, and o-xylene, respectively. BTEX concentrations are lower at the ecological printing environment than in the conventional, where mineral oil-based inks are used. However, the worker who cleans the printing matrices is exposed to high concentrations of ethylbenzene and xylenes, due probably to the cleaning product’s composition (containing high amounts of BTEX). Although the BTEX concentrations found in both printing work environments were below the limits considered by the Brazilian Law for Activities and Unhealthy Operations (NR-15), the exposure to such vapors characterizes risk to the workers’ health for some of the evaluated samples, mainly the personal ones.