Printer particles as bad as cigarette smoke – study

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Sydney (Australia) – Australian researchers have found that exposure to ordinary printer toner can be just as hazardous as cigarette smoking.  Lidia Morawska, PhD, with the Queensland University of Technology tested 62 office laser printers and found that 17 of them emitted high amounts of ultrafine toner particles – particles small enough to get into the deepest parts of the lungs and cause respiratory illness.

Morawska tested popular printer brands like HP, Canon, Ricoh and Toshiba and found that one-third of them emitted dangerous levels of particles.  In addition, six printers spewed out low levels while two printers shot out medium levels of particles.  Morawska found one particularly dirty printer that could be compared to a lit cigarette in the amount of particles sent in the air.

The study also seems to back up common-sense by discovering that new toner cartridges produced more particles and that printing graphics and images was a particularly polluting affair.  Morawska also found that indoor particle levels rise five-fold during printer usage.

The researchers plan to test the chemical composition and toxicity of the particles in future studies.