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Particle emissions from laser printers might pose health concern

consciously decided to study, Morawska said in an interview. We came across it by chance. Initially we were studying the efficiency of ventilation systems to protect office settings from outdoor air pollutants. We soon realized that we were seeing air pollution originating indoors, from laser printers.

The study found that indoor particle levels in the office air increased fivefold during work hours due to printer use. Printers emitted more particles when operating with new toner cartridges, and when printing graphics and images that require greater quantities of toner.

Funded by Queensland Department of Public Works and The Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation, the ES&T report includes a list of the brands and models in the study classified by amount of particles emitted. As a result of the study, the scientists are calling on government officials to consider regulating emission levels from laser printers. By all means, this is an important indoor source of pollution, Morawska said. There should be regulations.

The health effects from inhaled ultrafine particles depend on particle composition, but the results can range from respiratory irritation to more severe illnesses, such as cardiovascular problems or cancer, Morawska said. Even very small concentrations can be related to health hazards, she said. Where the concentrations are significantly elevated means there is potentially a considerable hazard.

Larger particles also could be unhealthy without reaching the deepest parts of the lung. Because they are larger, Morawska added, they contain more mass and can carry more toxins into the body. No matter how you look at it, there could be problems.

Morawska said that more research on the health effects of inhaling printer-generated particles is needed. As a first step to lower risk, people should ensure that rooms in offices or houses are well ventilated to allow airborne particles to disperse.'"/>

Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-4400
American Chemical Society
31-Jul-2007


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