Solvent printing was a godsend to the wide-format printing industry. While it would be a boon for the outdoor-durable print, it would bring its own set of health and environmental issues. The early solvent inks were just short of running uranium through the printer; just ask anyone who went to a trade show in the early part of this century and had an opportunity to breathe in the fumes. But since the introduction of solvent inks, the formulations have evolved to be less noxious, smelly, and flammable.
Though many of these newer solvents are milder, and are sometimes referred to with the misnomer eco, they still contain ingredients that can be harmful to those who operate them. If you check the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for substances that are potentially harmful to humans, including carcinogens, you needn’t look far. But never fear, since the effects of solvent fumes and outgassing can be greatly mitigated by taking the appropriate steps. Moreover, you can do the environment a favor by taking proper care in the disposal of your ink waste.