Dangerous laser printer particles identified

Feb 11, 2009
Laser printer

The identity and origin of tiny, potentially hazardous particles emitted from common laser printers have been revealed by a new study at Queensland University of Technology.

Professor Lidia Morawska from QUT's International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health lead the study to answer questions raised by earlier findings that almost one third of popular laser printers emitted large numbers of ultrafine particles.

These tiny particles are potentially dangerous to human health because they can penetrate deep into the lungs.

Professor Morawska said the latest study found that the ultrafine particles formed from vapours produced when the printed image is fused to the paper.

"In the printing process, toner is melted and when it is hot, certain compounds evaporate and those vapours then nucleate or condense in the air, forming ultrafine particles." she said

"The material is the result of the condensation of organic compounds which originate from both the paper and hot toner."

The study compared a high emitting printer with a low emitting printer and found that there were two ways in which printers contributed to the formation of these particles.

"The hotter the printer gets, the higher the likelihood of these particles forming, but the rate of change of the temperature also contributes," Professor Morawska said.

"The high emitting printer operated at a lower average temperature, but had rapid changes in temperature, which resulted in more condensable vapour being emitted from the printer.

"The printer with better temperature control emitted fewer particles"

Professor Morawska said this research provided information which would help consumers better understand the risks of laser printers and would help the printer industry to design low or no emission printers.

More information: An Investigation into the Characteristics and Formation Mechanisms of Particles Originating from the Operation of Laser Printers, Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP, DOI: 10.1021/es802193n, pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es802193n

Source: Queensland University of Technology

Explore further: Communication is key to Emergency Department success, new study says

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Does acupuncture help pets?

3 minutes ago

Like any other type of medical therapy, acupuncture is not magic: It is a mode of therapy that has both applications and limitations. I don't like to say that acupuncture treats disease, because so many people associate the ...

Peering into cosmic magnetic fields

33 minutes ago

The generation of cosmic magnetic fields has long intrigued astrophysicists. Since it was first described in 1959, a phenomenon known as Weibel filamentation instability—a plasma instability present in ...

Study looks at spending in countywide school district setups

43 minutes ago

States that use countywide school districts save money on administrative costs, but their counterparts that use local community-centered districts tend to spend more on classroom instruction, a new study by a University of ...

Research leads to better asphalt roads

44 minutes ago

In cooperation with eleven road construction companies, the University of Twente is working on improving asphalt roads in the Netherlands. By using new technology during the asphalt paving process, the resulting ...

Recommended for you

Sugary drinks linked to earlier onset of menstrual periods

9 hours ago

Girls who frequently consume sugary drinks tend to start their menstrual periods earlier than girls who do not, according to new research published online today (Wednesday) in Human Reproduction, one of the world's leadin ...

Don't become a blizzard casualty

10 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The blizzard conditions and frigid cold blanketing the U.S. Northeast pose numerous health threats, a doctor warns.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

zbarlici
5 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2009
wow... imagine how many corporate offices have laser printers installed...
googleplex
not rated yet Feb 12, 2009
Most organizations have a print center. In the USA we have Kinko's which are retail print centers. I would imagine that the particulate count is very high in these locations. One would expect the morbidity (sick) rate of workers in these places to be high. I imagine that once these particles enter the lungs they are not filtered and enter the blood stream.
I have noticed an increase in research on nano polution e.g. diesel smog, candle smoke and laser printer emmissions. The problem with all these is that the nano particles are not filtered by the lungs as it is too fine. Therefore it enters the blood stream and permiates the host. The last line of defense is then the phospholipid bilayer that encapsulates most cells.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.