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Monday, February 16, 2009

Killer Toner is Back: New Study Confirms Laser Printers release "tiny toxic particles" - But so does making Toast.

July, 2009

First reported here nearly a year ago, researchers found "toxic particles" are released whenever an office laser printer heats up.

In 2007, Physicist, Professor Lidia Morawska, from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane and colleagues were the first to show that laser printers in offices produce high levels of ultrafine particles (UFPs), less than 100 nanometres in width (also called nanoparticles).

From the study:

"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." - Huh?

Did a primary buffer panel just fall off my ship, for no apparent reason?

Or does the above paragraph simply translate into, "...we really don't know if all this means anything..."?

The study included Canon (NYSE: CAJ), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), Ricoh, and Toshiba printers sold in Australia and the United States.

Incorrectly reported over a year ago, toner particles are not being emitted.

From a different study in Braunschweig, Germany, researchers examined modified printers that “print” without any paper or toner.

From the study:

“The amazing thing is that the ultra-fine particles are still produced even in this case. The cause is the fixing unit – a component that heats up as high as 220°C during the printing process in order to fix the toner particles on the paper,” explains WKI scientist Dr. Michael Wensing.

“...what some printers do emit are ultra-fine particles made of volatile organic-chemical substances,” says WKI head of department Prof. Dr. Tunga Salthammer. “One essential property of these ultra-fine particles is their volatility, which indicates that we are not looking at toner dust.”

The high temperatures cause volatile substances such as paraffins and silicon oils to evaporate, and these accumulate as ulta-fine particles.

The scientists from Braunschweig observed similar phenomena – the formation of ultra-fine particles of volatile organic substances when heated – during typical household activities such as cooking, baking, or making toast.

After reading dozens of articles and composites of the actual studies this is what I see:

1. No toner is being emitted by any output device.

2. The studies are inconclusive, although there is proof that nano-particles are being emitted.

3. There is NO evidence or even a study being conducted to prove or disprove harm may result from exposure to these nano-particles.

4. Articles regarding this development are full of scare words and tactics. Implicitly comparing these nano-particles with smoking and alluding to unproven health problems.

So, beware - the Toner police are about to come down on the printer industry.

Or maybe they will simply confiscate our toasters...

Want to learn more?

Check this out:

Photocopiers and Laser Printers Health Hazards
Coates Electrographics Addresses Toner Health Concerns



    The risks by these office machines are most underestimated. All the research and comments seem to conveniently focus on just a few substances: the physical particles of toner or the levels of ozone taken individually.
    However the real hazards come from the MIXTURE of ozone PLUS
    dozens of VOC coming off the melting of the plastic toner PLUS
    bleaching agents and other chemicals given off when the paper gets heated at 200 degrees C inside the machine PLUS
    metallic gases coming off the drum (can be arsenic or selenium) PLUS the effects of the physical particles of toner and paper, which have a biological impact very different from that of volatile gases. Nothing of this cocktail of substances acting synergically is being taken into account.

    I have suffered a devastating respiratory condition due to these office machines in my job. It was diagnosed as bronchial hyperreactivity and multiple chemical sensitivity, which means I cannot stand any chemical in the air, including perfumes and airfresheners which are now most offensive for me. My illness has not been officially acknowledged as of occupational origin although there are more similar cases around the world usually misdiagnosed as psychosomatic or anything unrelated to an exposure to noxious gases.

    There are influential interests hindering the open release of information concerning persons actually going ill because of these office machines. Anyone reading this message is requested to release it around as a warning. And if anyone knows of other cases of persons suffering obscure symptoms and syndromes never well understood who might have been breathing the concentrated vapours of these machines you are also requested to please leave message here for further comments and follow up.

  2. I'm glad I stumbled upon your blog - I was startled too when I first heard the news on this study. Enjoy reading your post and the comments.


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