Laser Printers Linked To Health Risk - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Hardware & Infrastructure
News
7/31/2007
08:03 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Laser Printers Linked To Health Risk

A study classified 17 out of 62 printers as "high particle emitters" because they released so much toner powder into the air.

Laser printers may be hazardous to your health. According to a study released Wednesday, some laser printers used in home and office environments pollute the air with potentially hazardous toner particles.

The study, scheduled to appear online in the American Chemical Society's Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) journal, classified 17 out of 62 printers as "high particle emitters" because they released so much toner powder into the air. One of the printers released ultra-fine toner particles at a rate comparable with cigarette smoking, according to the American Chemical Society.

Not all printers deserve warning labels, however. Thirty-seven of the 62 printers tested did not release enough particles to reduce air quality. Six released low levels of particles and two released medium levels.

The study included Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Ricoh, and Toshiba printers sold in Australia and the United States. It was conducted by Lidia Morawska, a professor at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues, with funding from Queensland Department of Public Works and The Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation.

"The highest printer particle number emission rate found in the chamber study was 1.6 * 1011 particle min-1, which is close to the median value of submicrometer particle number emission rates for activities, such as cigarette smoking (1.91 * 1011 particle min-1), occurring in residential houses," the study said. The high emitter list includes one Toshiba model and the rest of the listed printers are manufactured by HP.

The study notes that printer emissions are highly variable and that some printers, such as the HP LaserJet 5, can be either non-emitters or high emitters of particles in different circumstances. "The high standard deviation of the average emission rates estimated in this study also indicates that the particle emission process and the behavior of individual printers are complex and that they are still far from being completely understood," the study said. "Many factors, such as printer model, printer age, cartridge model, and cartridge age may affect the particle emission process and all of these factors require further study."

Morawska said that her group discovered printer pollution by chance. "It wasn't an area that we consciously decided to study," Morawska told the American Chemical Society news service. "We came across it by chance. Initially we were studying the efficiency of ventilation systems to protect office settings from outdoor air pollutants. We soon realized that we were seeing air pollution originating indoors, from laser printers."

Morawska and her associates found that indoor particle levels increased by a factor of five during work hours, when printers are used. New toner cartridges and graphics-intensive print jobs added to the amount of toner particles in the air.

The inhalation of ultra-fine particles can affect human health in different ways, depending on the material inhaled and the quantity. But such particles can cause respiratory irritation or more serve conditions including cardiovascular problems or cancer.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream."

Current toner particles typically range from 8 to 10 micrometers, according to Wikipedia.

The toner particles measured in the study ranged from 15 to 710 nanometers, or 0.015 to 0.71 micrometers.

HP's Material Safety Data Sheet for its Color LaserJet 8500 Series suggests the risk from toner inhalation (for that particular model at least) is not particularly significant. "Minimal respiratory tract irritation may occur with exposure to large amounts of toner dust," the document states.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2018 State of the Cloud
2018 State of the Cloud
Cloud adoption is growing, but how are organizations taking advantage of it? Interop ITX and InformationWeek surveyed technology decision-makers to find out, read this report to discover what they had to say!
Slideshows
9 Steps Toward Ethical AI
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  5/15/2019
Commentary
How to Assess Digital Transformation Efforts
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  5/14/2019
Commentary
Is AutoML the Answer to the Data Science Skills Shortage?
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  5/10/2019
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
A New World of IT Management in 2019
This IT Trend Report highlights how several years of developments in technology and business strategies have led to a subsequent wave of changes in the role of an IT organization, how CIOs and other IT leaders approach management, in addition to the jobs of many IT professionals up and down the org chart.
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll