Do laser printers emit harmful particles?

Dec 02, 2008 by Lisa Zyga weblog
In a test chamber, researchers investigate what kind of particles laser printers release into the ambient air. Image credit: Fraunhofer WKI.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers have investigated the possibility that laser printers emit pathogenic toner particles into the air, which has been a subject of public controversy. Some reports have suggested that laser printers release tiny particles that could have negative health effects.

The researchers, from the Fraunhofer Wilhelm Klauditz Institute (WKI) in Braunschweig, Germany, and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia, have found that laser printers release hardly any toner particles into the air. However, they also found that some printers do emit small amounts of ultra-fine particles made of volatile organic chemical substances.

Because these particles are volatile, they couldn´t be coming from toner dust. Even printers that print without toner or even paper also produce these ultra-fine particles. The cause, explained WKI scientist Michael Wensing, is the fixing unit - the component that heats up during the printing process in order to fix the toner particles on the paper. The fixing unit can reach temperatures of 220°C (428°F).

At this temperature, volatile substances in the printer, such as paraffins and silicon oils, can evaporate and accumulate as ultra-fine particles, which can be emitted into the air. The researchers explained that similar particles are formed during typical household activities that involve heating, such as cooking, baking, and making toast.

To test the quantity, size, and chemical composition of the particles emitted from various printers, the researchers housed the printers in a test chamber, and used particle analyzers to count the particles and measure their size distribution.

Although filters are available on the market to reduce printer emissions, the researchers explained that such external filters can only have a limited effect, since the particles are not emitted from a specific part of the printer.

via: Fraunhofer WKI

Explore further: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Physics: A fundamental force for future security

Feb 13, 2014

What is matter? What is energy? What holds matter together? How do the various constituents of the universe interact at the most basic level? Where does the Earth sit in relation to the rest of the universe? ...

3-D printed implants may soon fix complex injuries

Dec 12, 2013

In an age where 3-D printers are becoming a more and more common tool to make custom designed objects, some researchers are using the technology to manufacture replacement parts for the most customized a ...

Recommended for you

Surrogate offers clues into man with 16 babies

6 hours ago

When the young Thai woman saw an online ad seeking surrogate mothers, it seemed like a life-altering deal: $10,000 to help a foreign couple that wanted a child but couldn't conceive.

Nurses go on strike in Ebola-hit Liberia

6 hours ago

Nurses at Liberia's largest hospital went on strike on Monday, demanding better pay and equipment to protect them against a deadly Ebola epidemic which has killed hundreds in the west African nation.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

Aug 31, 2014

It's pretty hard to find a novel way to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by now, but two-time Grammy-winning rapper Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, has done it—getting his dousing in the center ...

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

Aug 27, 2014

U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a ...

User comments : 0