HAPs and Ink Safety

HAPs is an acronym that stands for Hazardous Air Pollutants. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a list of chemicals and classes of chemicals that fall under HAPs. If a solvent ink contains one or more of these listed chemicals, it contains HAPs. Ink manufacturers know that removing HAPs is important for both the environment and for the graphics industry.

  • The hazard might be the chemical itself and what it does to your employees and the environment, or it may cover a class of materials that are classified as hazardous. 
  • If you want to check to determine whether there is a HAPs material in a particular ink, you can request a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) from the ink provider.
  • Next, compare the chemicals listed on the MSDS with the list provided on the EPA website (www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/orig189.html). 
  • Each chemical has a CAS number associated with it, which means the substance has been registered with the Chemical Abstracts Service. The CAS number is important since chemists often have several ways of naming chemicals and the CAS number is unique to the chemical, no matter how it is named.
  • For chemicals, like pigments or dyes, there may only be a component in the chemical which makes it HAPs listed. For example, nickel is commonly used in the yellow pigments in inkjet inks where outdoor lightfastness is important. Nickel is a listed component on the HAPs list and the chemical containing it must also be listed as a carcinogen. 
  • Chemicals that help to clean or degrease the surface of the substrate on which you are printing are frequently HAPs-listed materials. They are needed for good wetting and adhesion of the ink to the substrate. It is difficult to find a good degreaser that is not HAPs listed. It is hard to develop an ink which is HAPs-free and yet provides good adhesion properties particularly to vinyl. 
  • A growing number of manufacturers are offering inks with a “HAPs-free” claim for new ink formulations.