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: Mexican Americans confront high disability rates in later life

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Five ways to put tiny targets in front of an X-ray laser

Feb 03, 2015

X-ray devices have long been used to see the inner structure of things, from bone breaks in the human body to the contents of luggage at airport security checkpoints. But to see life's chemistry and exotic materials at the ...

The Shrinky Dink solution

Sep 09, 2009

Toys don't usually inspire high-tech innovation, but Michelle Khine's childhood favorite did just that.

Do laser printers emit harmful particles?

Dec 02, 2008

(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 ...

Recommended for you

Mexican Americans confront high disability rates in later life

12 hours ago

Life expectancy for Hispanics in the U.S. currently outpaces other ethnic groups, yet a new study finds that Mexican Americans—especially women who were born in Mexico—are spending a high proportion of their later years ...

Top European beers to show calorie counts

16 hours ago

Beer drinkers in Europe will soon be able to find out the calorie count on their drinks after four of the world's biggest brewers said Thursday that they will list the information.

One in four high school seniors now try water pipes

22 hours ago

Despite declines in the number of youths who smoke cigarettes, hookah or water pipe use continues to rise among Canadian youth, a new study from the University of Waterloo reports. Published Monday in Cancer Ca ...

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.