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“Commercial printing is Canada’s longest established and most widely dispersed information technology-based manufacturing industry. Canada’s printing industry accounts for 8.11% of all manufacturing industry in the nation. In 2011 the Canadian printing industry employed 58,469 individuals. There are about 6,724 establishments across the country and which are primarily Canadian-owned.
In 2011 these employees produced over $8.4 billion worth of shipments, $918 million of which was in export sales. With a gross output multiplier of 1.65, the industry will generate an additional $5.47 billion in other sectors of the Canadian economy.” Canadian Printing Industries Sector Council
Many print shop workers face a significant risk of injury or illness due to their constant exposure to chemical hazards involved in the printing processes such as cleaning solvents, inks, lacquers, spray powder, paper dust, ozone from the UV curing lights. Even though chemical hazards are prevalent due to the use of specific compounds, biological hazards in form of viruses, fungi, bacteria and mold have been linked to a extensive array of health issues.
Deletion fluids containing hydrofluoric acid (toxic and corrosive compound) are occasionally used to make minor alterations to printing plates. These products are harmful if skin or eye contact occurs leading to skin burns and eye damage. Extremely dangerous if inhaled or swallowed, the hydrofluoric acid could cause severe respiratory tract irritation.
Ozone, a gas produced during the high voltage electrical discharge in photocopiers and laser printers, is another highly toxic pollutant. In normal conditions, ozone breaks down in air rapidly, but the process can be slowed down by high humidity and temperature. Adverse health effects include eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, dermatitis, headaches and nausea, premature aging, and potential reproductive dangers. Itching, can occur on the face, neck and areas of skin exposed to ozone. When mixed with nitrogen oxide produced when there is a spark in electrostatic photocopiers. ozone can also have an effect on the central nervous system.
The VOCs (volatile organic compounds) generated during the photocopying and laser printing processes can contain traces of decane (carcinogenic), 1,1,1- trichloroethane (can cause skin irritation), iso-octane, toluene (causes fatigue, drowsiness, throat and eye irritation), xylene (can cause menstrual disorder and kidney failure), and benzene (carcinogenic and potential teratogenic).
The drums inside certain printers and copiers might contain selenium or cadmium sulphide. The hot gases emitted from these materials might cause throat irritation and to exposed workers and short-term exposure to high levels of selenium by ingestion causes nausea, vomiting, skin rashes and rhinitis.
The health effects of carbon monoxide produced when toner (containing carbon black) is heated in poorly ventilated conditions the effects include headaches, drowsiness, faintness and increased pulse rate. Toners, a mixture of plastic resin and carbon black, are classified as a nuisance dust (mildly toxic in itself) but contains impurities known to be carcinogens.
The indoor use of propane or gasoline-fueled equipment such as forklifts has been linked to carbon monoxide exposure in workers. Carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless, colorless gas, can cause sudden illness and death when high concentrations accumulates in a contained, poorly ventilated space.
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