Laser Printers’ Toner-Particle Emissions Unhealthy?
Can emissions from office laser printers be as unhealthy as cigarette smoke? Research from Brisbane, Australia-based Queensland University of Technology’s Air Quality and Health Program, led by physics professor Lidia Morawska, suggests the average printer releases toner particles that can get deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems and cardiovascular trouble.
Journalists Peter Judge and David Meyer reported on the study for CNET News on August 1. In the article, Judge and Meyer noted that Morawska and her team are specialists in atmospheric particles, and are part of the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health. The team tested 62 laser printer models—all relatively new—and found that 17 were “high emitters” of toner particles. Despite using similar technology, office photocopiers do not emit particles, the team discovered.
The particles have not had a full chemical analysis, but some are potential carcinogens, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald. The printer-emissions were discovered by chance when an investigation of office ventilation systems, carried out jointly between the University and the Queensland Department of Public Works, found five times as many particles indoors as those produced by traffic outdoors. Using an electronic sniffer, researchers traced the emissions to printers. The emissions were found to increase during the day, when printers were left on standby or in full operation.
Following the revelation, Morawska’s team tested their own printers and moved the unhealthy ones away from people. The researchers are now calling for regulations on printer emissions.
For more information, visit www.cnet.com.