New Workplace Health Hazard: Your Printer?

I just read an L.A. Times article about "particle emissions" from office printers that can cause health problems ranging from respiratory irritation to cardiovascular problems and cancer! 

A physicist and her research team set out to measure air quality inside an office building, and quickly noted that during the workday particle levels were much higher indoors and printers were "clearly the culprit".

They mentioned actual models that do and don't emit a lot of particles, but the physicist was adamant that such particles are "beyond any doubt" to be a health hazard.  She recommended that offices have adequate venthilation so ensure particles are dispersed.


  • 4 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • At least the new toner cartridges are self contained; in the "olden days," there would be a cloud of toner to breathe in every time your changed it.

    I have heard that some companies have employees wear gloves and an apron when they change toners.

  • That's unsettling news. Workplaces often have unhealthy air - cube walls, mold, dust, etc Not to mention fumes in some manufacturing plants, printing companies, etc. We should be able to open the windows and let in some air, but all the windows are usually locked.

  • I totally agree with RuthG.  Unfortunately, new buildings are not built to allow windows to be opened.  Let us hope that air vent filters are checked on a regular basis. 
  • Also beware of this issue for employees who are sensitive to chemicals and other irritants. What was once scoffed at as hypochondria is now a medically recognized disorder called multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Folks with MCS can have horrible reactions to elements that you or I consider to be only annoying/smelly. Chemicals like toner, cleaners, new carpeting, etc. can send them to the hospital. It might be a good idea to be alert for signs of MCS and need for accommodation (where possible/not an undue burden).
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