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Health & Safety

Since Highpoint’s doors first opened to the public in 2001, we have been dedicated to maintaining a safe and healthy printshop facility for our staff, users, and visitors as well as remaining mindful of Highpoint’s impact on the environment. We look to put the days of highly toxic solvents like benzene, toluene, kerosene, lacquer thinner, and others as far behind as possible. Highpoint supplies a few specific solvents to its users such as Press Pro, odorless mineral spirits, acetone, and denatured alcohol—all of which are the least toxic in their class—and does not allow others to be brought into the shop.

Highpoint staff worked for more than two years with Glen Nelson of Bioforce to develop the nontoxic, soy-based Press Pro as our first line solvent, replacing 95% of the need for volatile organic solvents. Not only does our use of Press Pro keep Highpoint’s air cleaner, but it also prevents us from needing to exhaust solvent fumes outside. All rags that have been used with standard solvents and Press Pro are picked up weekly by GK Services, which is registered with the EPA and strictly filters laundry waste water from its rags so that they may be reused.

Beyond its commitment to responsible solvents, Highpoint has opted to use water-soluble inks for school-age classes, Free Ink Day and community events, and screenprinting. Additionally, copper plates are etched with Ferric Chloride. Ferric Chloride is a good, clean-biting mordant that doesn’t pose the same dangers as traditional acids, which may emit toxic fumes and cause skin burns. Another advantage is Ferric Chloride’s long lifespan. Though our printmakers have etched thousands of plates over the past seven years, Highpoint has replaced only one of its four etching baths. Alternatives such as Nitric or Dutch Mordant last a fraction as long and result in hundreds of gallons of spent baths. Our small volume of Ferric Chloride use allows HP to pay for hazardous waste treatment disposal rather than neutralizing our baths and dumping them down the drain—which unfortunately is common practice in most printshops.