Watch Out For Secondhand Printing? Laser Printers Deemed Dangerous To The Lungs

from the watch-out dept

A new report is getting all sorts of attention today for claiming that laser printers can be as dangerous for your lungs as smoking. Apparently, laser printers kick up some tiny particles of toner that people inhale. The researchers are asking the gov't to start regulating the printers and requiring health warnings -- but it may be a bit quick to call for such things. The study only showed that 1/3 of printers they studied had this problem and seems to show that this could be a problem, not that it actually is. Not to say that it shouldn't be studied more to find out if it is a real health issue, but before spending lots of time and money on regulations it seems like a little more research should be added. In the meantime, why not just publish which printers are the dangerous ones? That should drive people to stop buying those printers while also pushing the printer makers to fix whatever it is that causes the emissions. Since it doesn't happen on all printers, clearly it's something that has a technical fix that doesn't require the government to get involved at all.

Filed Under: printers, smoking


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  • identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, 1 Aug 2007 @ 8:07am

    There aught to be a law!

    I smell a lawsuit brewing.


    oh yeah, first.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    CertifiableX, 1 Aug 2007 @ 8:24am

    Printing or no printing section?

    It looks like we should pass laws forcing all printing to be done outside, 50 ft. from any governament building, and start airing a bunch of cheezy "public service" ads telling kids just how bad printing is... ;-P

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    adam, 1 Aug 2007 @ 8:39am

    great...

    i sit right next to the laser-printer in my office...

    come to think of it, my throat has been scratchy lately

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Johnny5, 1 Aug 2007 @ 8:41am

    OSHA, hello!

    Why do we need OSHA? Because there's plenty of employers out there who will only make their workplace as safe as is required.

    I think it's naive to assume that publishing the results will cause demand for printers with high toner emissions to fall to a level that pushes them out of the market. It doesn't seem likely that enough employers will look at the health factor over cost when lack of regulation takes the liability off their backs and places it on the manufacturers.

    Look at the extreme end of workplaces with printing equipment: copy centers. When your entire business is copies and your employees are the printing version of burger flippers, cost of equipment and quality of product are going to be your first decision factors if regulation is not present.

    Even if the majority of businesses did base their equipment choices on emissions, there will still be employers who ignore the risk. If the danger is proven, then regulation should follow either for the manufacture of these devices, the conditions of the workplace, or both.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bob Knight, 1 Aug 2007 @ 8:48am

    Printers

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bob Knight, 1 Aug 2007 @ 8:49am

    Printers

    What about photocopiers they work in a similar way?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DDoll, 1 Aug 2007 @ 9:00am

    As Bad as Smoking?

    Well let us put smoking staff beside the printers so we can get them out of the way quicker. I mean if they dont care about there health enough to quit smoking then printer dust should be nothing to them either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, 1 Aug 2007 @ 9:02am

    WTF?

    Why douse this strike me as a fake report? Seriously, how many people sit around all day thinking "What's damaging my health today." Can't say I've ever looked at a laser printer and thought "I wonder how many little plastic balls I'm inhaling." (we sell, and use, HP LJ at work, I have a brother LJ at home.)

    WiFi, Cell phones, TVs, Sunlight, Moonlight, Methane from cow crap, Magnets, Microwaves, I could go on forever. Everything is dangerous to these people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James, 1 Aug 2007 @ 9:03am

    ACKKKKKK!!!

    We must quickly pass new laws, no laser printers may be used in bars or restaurants!! Think of the children!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The Man, 1 Aug 2007 @ 9:08am

    Bad Science

    You can not believe any of this crap they put out. We have all been duped by Global Warming and Second Hand Smoke for so long, no one questions these "Studies". I would bet that like all the other BS studies, this one can not pass the basic tests we all learned in grade school. Namely, the results can be recreated by another scientist doing the same procedures. Global Warming can't, every ailment being caused by smoking can't. It is all BS. Does everybody remember how coffee was going to kill everyone. Now it is full of anti-oxidants and having more than two cups a day reduces the risk of colon cancer by 80% or some crap. What about how butter will kill you, you must buy Margarine. But wait, now margarine will kill you and you should have bought the all natural butter all along. The terrible emissions from cars using gas is going to ruin the environment, we must put MTBE in the gas as an additive to drive the cost per gallon up and clean the environment. Oh Shit, MTBE is going to destroy our environment and drinking water. Get it out of gas now at even more cost per gallon.

    Should I go on.............

    We need to fix how scientists get paid to do these studies. If they did not know who was paying them and what results were expected of them prior to doing the study, we could probably get closer to the truth again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anon, 7 Aug 2007 @ 10:28am

      Re: Bad Science

      Second hand smoke isn't bad? What planet are you from? Or have you not heard the one about the waitress that worked in a restaurant for like 30 years and died of lung cancer, never having smoked a cigarette in her life?

      It's people like you that ignore global warming and continue to add to it. I spoke to someone yesterday that actually watched a glacier fall apart in Northern Canada.

      BS? Go back to 1492 where you belong.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    comboman, 1 Aug 2007 @ 9:29am

    Laser printers are dangerous?

    Was this study paid for by the ink jet industry? With more people switching to cost-effective laser printers from ink jets with their overpriced cartridges, the ink jet people have got to do something to maintain market share.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve Pigg, 1 Aug 2007 @ 9:30am

    printer makes & models with emission levels is ava

    You just need to dig a bit to find the data.

    http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/asap.cgi/esthag/asap/html/es063049z.html#es063049zt00001

    Als o, 1/3 of all the printers tested did not have this problem. The abstract says 40% of printers tested were emitters and 27% of that 40% were 'high level emitters'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous of Course, 1 Aug 2007 @ 9:38am

    Seems to me...

    Seems to me that the dangers of the type of
    particles emitted is an unknown. Even if the
    particles are the size and shape of, say, second
    hand tobbacco smoke particles, the chemistry is
    quite different. Is there any research on the
    effetcs of tiny styrene and carbon black particles
    on human lungs?

    I think there are conclusions being jumped at here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2007 @ 4:50pm

      Re: Seems to me...

      yeah - breathe in any kind of crap you want, for as long as you want. It's ok cause nobody proved beyond a scientific shadow of doubt that it'll kill for you.

      No thanks.

      I love the never ending search for exactly how much poisonous crap it's ok to ingest.

      What do you think our lungs were designed to inhale? Toner? Exhaust fumes? Tobacco smoke? All of the above at the same time?

      And the voice of authority says, "Move on. Nothing to worry about here. Go shopping."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Overcast, 1 Aug 2007 @ 9:58am

    You can not believe any of this crap they put out. We have all been duped by Global Warming and Second Hand Smoke for so long, no one questions these "Studies".

    Yeah, from either viewpoint - I don't question the fact that 99% of them are complete political BS, designed to enrich one person at the expense of others.

    Usually it's some 'goodie-goodie' group trying to skim corporate profits because they are too dim-witted to develop their own product to sell on the market.

    AKA - Big get rich quick schemes for people too lazy to participate in multi-level marketing, lol.

    But on a more serious note would you rather be trapped in an enclosed garage for an hour with 50 Laser Printers and 50 Smokers going full bore - or one Hybrid at minimum idle?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    nunya_bidness, 1 Aug 2007 @ 10:08am

    Not my printer

    I have had the same laser printer in my office for about three years, if it gave off any toner dust some of it would have collected on the outside of the unit. When I run a white cloth around it and the desk it is on, I find virtually no sign of dust of any kind. So there is no problem for me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    William Mcallister, 1 Aug 2007 @ 11:55am

    Pissed at our gov't.

    I think we also forgot that too much sunlight will also kill you. Water will kill you also. If the Car was invented today with all the power the lawyers have, I am sure that it would have been scrapped because it can kill you.


    This society needs to change. We need to bring in a new president, to look squarely in the eye the lawyers.. "No More"

    You can only do that if you change our ideas of what the role of Government ought to be. If you think that the government has to have a hand in taking care of us from cradle to grave, and broker deals (read: lawsuits) which transfer wealth from the poor to Wallstreet, then we all loose.

    Take a look at Ron Paul if you get a chance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWfIhFhelm8

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      The Man, 1 Aug 2007 @ 12:45pm

      Re: Pissed at our gov't.

      How many hours a day do you hit blogs to campaign?

      RuPaul is running for President? I have not heard about he/she in a long time. Good for it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kevin, 1 Aug 2007 @ 12:13pm

    Uh-huh

    I have had the same laser printer in my office for about three years, if it gave off any toner dust some of it would have collected on the outside of the unit. When I run a white cloth around it and the desk it is on, I find virtually no sign of dust of any kind. So there is no problem for me.



    Unless you, or your cleaning staff, dust regularly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous coward, 1 Aug 2007 @ 2:03pm

    if aspirin was invented today, you would need a prescription to get it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    drawoc, 1 Aug 2007 @ 8:35pm

    read the article!

    now there's a novel thought.
    i'll say it again:
    read the article.
    it's easy to find. you might learn something. you might also refrain from ridiculous, ignorant comments on something you haven't even seen. your comments are all based on this one techdirt article, which itself bemoans a lack of a published list of printers. erm .. read the article! there IS a list.
    geezuz.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chronno S. Trigger, 2 Aug 2007 @ 5:49am

      Re: read the article!

      You can't say that because:

      1) there is no list in the article linked to in this article

      2) the article listed by Steve Pigg is behind a registration wall. (and I can't find a way to register or even if it's a pay site)

      So point us to this list that you have found.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lynne, 6 Aug 2007 @ 5:52am

    Toner Dangers

    I run the tech lab in an elementary school (PreK-2) and we have printers in most of our classrooms. Has there been any talk of guidelines for environmentally sensitive or medically compromised people? After reading the reports this month, however inconclusive, I'm feeling that I should maybe move my printers to several centrally located rooms and get them away from the children until more is known on the dangers of inhaling these particles. Any thoughts? Am I overreacting? Remember, these are small children who are at more risk than just your average adult.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lorren Livingston, 6 Aug 2007 @ 11:30am

    Dangerous laser printer emissions

    Without a doubt the printers under suspicion should be outed. There is no doubt that this has all the potential for a asbestos class action problem. Better check with your suppliers about their product liablilty insurance. CYA time...six months from now they will be asking what you did when you first learned about the issue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gil Newsom, 6 Aug 2007 @ 10:21pm

    JUST stopping by to let you know of a great software that printers will love. A way to manage and track all their print jobs in house. Communication with all the users, sales reps can log in remotely, very affordable. Check it out: www.Rocketprintsoftware.com

    ROCKETWORKFLOW - Stop messin' around...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Larry Presnell, 6 Aug 2007 @ 10:24pm

      Re: I'm using RocketWorkflow

      My employees will never part from this print management software. Web based and you can know where every job is at any hour of the night. I'm resting well. Thank you Rocketpirntsoftware.com.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Les, 9 Aug 2007 @ 5:46am

    Toner Dust - Real or Myth?

    Well, seems like a lot of bright techies out there with oodles of wisecracks about health, smoking, toner dust studies, etc. When they grow up, IF they grown up, I'd hate to have to be the one to pay their doctor bills.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mandy, 9 Aug 2007 @ 7:33am

    Laser Printer Dust

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve, 19 Aug 2007 @ 4:13pm

    Give me a Break!!!

    Of course this is jsut going to cause a whole new crop of frivolous lawsuits that will continue to tie up our courts and tax payer resources, ridiculous!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bob, 17 Sep 2007 @ 9:04am

    Here's what happened to me

    I dropped a HP 4250 in my office last April. I frequently do large print jobs, mostly text, I have a very small office. The printer is pretty smelly when it is printing lots. After a few months I picked up what I would call a smokers cough, it happened so slowly I didn't pick up at first, then began to wonder what was wrong because I was coughing a lot. I went on a two week vacation and the cough went away, about the same time I read about the dust problem and decided not to use mine. That lasted a few weeks, because I like the printer - does a good job. So I began to use it for a few days - the cough came back. I'm not taking any more chances, its out of here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rick in St. Louis, 13 Jan 2009 @ 7:30am

    Laser printer dust allergy

    I get big time symptoms from the laser printers and faxes. In my new job, there are two printers within 5 feet of me, one a printer and the other a fax. My eyes would get red, and I would get a bad headache that built as the day went on. I brought in a hepa filter, but that did not help. Then I replaced both of these printers with ink jet, and the symptoms have greatly diminished. The office still has plenty of toner dust, because I found lots of dust on the blades of the ionic breeze I brought in. There is still one more laser printer in another room, and I still get headaches, but not as bad as before.

    The owner thinks that since they do not affect him, that the problem is imaginary. Of course, this is flawed logic, as the laser printer dust is carcinogenic, and lack of allergic symptoms do not mean you are immune from the carcinogenic or other ill effects.

    There is no place for laser printers or faxes in our workplace. Ink jets are just as good, and are more economical. Many employee headaches and other ills are caused by these machines, but they have not realized the link.

    A few lawsuits will be very helpful here to nudge employers into replacing these health hazards.

    Rick

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rob, 28 Aug 2009 @ 6:15pm

    It's worth it

    Laser printers are, in my eyes, so much better than inkjets that I won't own another inkjet, except for photo printing. Yeah, most lasers start to get smelly and can cause a bit of a minor cough when you print a lot, but that's easily remedied by keeping the printer in a less-occupied area separate from your workspace.

    Also, in response to the previous post, inkjets are nowhere as economical. Please find me an injet that costs me less than $0.05 per page of black text in total consumables, excluding paper. Oh, and that inkjet must print at least 20ppm on the normal quality setting, and 6-8ppm on max quality when printing an 8x10 photo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mugisha, 21 Jul 2018 @ 5:09am

    am having aproblem with toner is cough every time what can i do to tobe ok

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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