Office Printers Spew As Many Particles As Smoldering Cigarettes

Everyone hates the office printer, including scientists who blame the printers for emitting dangerous amounts of ultra-fine particles. Scientists from Queensland University examined printers from Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Ricoh and Toshiba. Their findings don’t condemn any one brand: the HP LaserJet 4050 emitted no particles, while the the HP LaserJet 1320 and 4250 raised the particle count of the surrounding air tenfold. From the LA Times:

Morawska did not originally set out to study printers. She was invited by the Queensland Department of Public Works to measure air quality inside a six-floor office building near a busy road.

The scientists quickly noticed that during the workday, particle levels were much higher indoors than out. Indoor particle levels reached as high as 625,986 particles per square inch, compared with 178,619 particles per square inch outside the building.

Printers were clearly the culprit: Copy machines and a break room microwave were not among the main particle sources.

The researchers then analyzed air quality near each printer after it had printed one page, and used this data to categorize printers by the amount of particles released. Particle levels rose as soon as the printer started.

Inhaling particles can cause breathing problems and cancer. Finally, proof that office work is [potentially] hazardous to your health.

That Printer At The Office May Be Ruining Your Health [LA Times]
Particle Emission Characteristics of Office Printers [Environmental Science and Technology]
(Photo: thraxil)