a European partnership
Ultraviolet curing of inks and coatings offers numerous production benefits, but it also helps to reduce the industry’s emissions of harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). This area is of special concern to European health, safety and environmental (HSE) bodies. Over the years they have cooperated in setting guidelines to reduce harmful levels of VOCs. One recent international initiative is the UV Protocol, intended to provide effective monitoring and safe use of radiation technology in the European graphics industry. It builds on the platform of work already carried out by several HSEs, as well as that initiated by RadTech Europe (RTE), which promotes the use of radiation and electron beam technology.
The UV Protocol defines standards covering the compounds used for manufacturing UV inks and coatings, as well as the design and construction of printing and converting machines. Furthermore, it recommends a hierarchy of control measures ranging from elimination of a particular chemical or a process, substitution or reduction to a harmless level to the use of personal protective equipment. The prime consideration is elimination and substitution, followed by intermediate choices like engineering measures. It considers the use of personal protective equipment as a measure of last resort.