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(For a now-defunct newspaper.)

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The Scent of A Paper
Environmentally-Friendly Solutions For Inks

Originally written for a newspaper that folded before it was actually published, this sample is included here to show how a personal and friendly tone can be employed in a lively way to educate---and entertain---the reader.

When you pick up your daily newspaper, do you sometimes find a smudgy section, or does the ink come off on your fingers? Yes, it's "hot off the press" and the ink isn't even dry yet.

If you are an environmentally-concerned citizen, you might be remotely distressed about the numbers of trees being wasted annually just so you can read that newspaper, but have you ever wondered about the second element which goes into the paper - the ink?

Take a sniff. Can you smell that freshly printed scent of the newspaper? That's VOCs you're inhaling, and the stronger the whiff of ink, the more VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) you could be breathing. Right into your lungs.

Mineral ink, being in reality an oil, doesn't actually totally dry out, it dries just enough to handle (hence the black smears on hands). It continues to emit VOCs for a long time afterwards, for you to inhale and your skin to absorb.

VOCs are a big, although hidden, issue in Halifax and other large cities.

So....what's so awful about VOCs, and why should you, the ordinary person, care?

VOCs are some of the 'most persistent emissions problems' in the printing industry, and can directly and indirectly damage both workers' health and the environment. Here's how it works.

In many printing shops, wet ink gives off strong VOCs during the printing process. The VOCs mix with nitrogen oxides (a byproduct of burning fuel) and sunlight to become a major contributor to ground level ozone or smog.

According to Rodger Albright of Pollution Prevention Program at Environment Canada in Dartmouth, elevated levels of ground level ozone are damaging to our health as well as vegetation, including our crops and forests. VOCs in general can also cause drowsiness and stupor, irritate one's skin, produce respiratory irritation, and may even be carcinogenic (cancer-causing).

Ask yourself this. If something chemical seeps out from printing shops to actually cause pollution outside, what effect is it having on the workers' lungs inside?

NEXT PAGE: The solution is simple, and too hard to implement.

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