A common misconception is that all “water-based” inks are eco-friendly, as they are often marketed. In actuality some water-based inks, particularly “discharge inks”, contain chemicals that are toxic to humans and the planet. The activator in discharge inks renders the ink unusable after just a few hours. This means that any leftover ink literally becomes toxic waste!

In the realm of garment printing, water-based discharge screen printing inks are often praised for their ability to create vibrant, long-lasting designs on fabrics. However, behind the allure of these inks lies a potential environmental and health concern that deserves attention. In this post, we'll delve into the intricacies of discharge screen printing inks, exploring their toxicity and the implications for both human health and the environment.

Discharge screen printing inks are a type of ink used in the textile industry to remove the dye from fabric, leaving behind a desired design. While this process can yield striking results, it involves the use of chemical agents known as activators. These activators, such as thiourea dioxide or zinc formaldehyde sulfoxylate, play a crucial role in removing fabric dyes but can pose significant risks if mishandled or improperly disposed of.

One of the primary concerns associated with toxic discharge screen printing inks is their potential to cause harm to human health. Exposure to the chemical components in these inks, whether through skin contact, inhalation of fumes, or ingestion, can lead to a range of health issues. Thiourea dioxide, for example, has been linked to skin and respiratory irritation, while zinc formaldehyde sulfoxylate may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

The environmental impact of toxic discharge inks cannot be overlooked. Improper disposal of ink residues, washout water, or other waste materials from the printing process can result in contamination of soil, waterways, and ecosystems. Chemical runoff from discharge printing can contribute to water pollution, posing risks to aquatic life and disrupting fragile ecosystems.


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