Top Health Tools
Top Health Tools
Top Reports
Top Reports
Top Articles
Top Articles
Top Reviews
Top Reviews


September 24, 2013 by APRIL McCARTHY
Laser Printers and Photo Copiers Release Invisible Toxins Which Cause Inflammation And Oxidative Stress

Without laser printers or photocopy machines, how could we ever reproduce hard copy literature? For starters, the world is becoming more digital by the month making these outdated forms of technology a non issue for the most part. We still do need them, but at what expense? Laser printers and copiers emit large amounts of ozone -- in fact, you can often smell the ozone if the photocopier is in a small room. Ozone is produced by electrical discharge through air; it's the smell associated with electrical arcs and badly maintained motors. It's also highly toxic. Small nanoparticles from these machines break down and irritate the eyes, the respiratory system, the mouth, and can cause itching. It can also cause headaches, nausea and premature aging of the skin. If you work somewhere where you notice a strange smell around the photocopiers, you're being exposed to dangerous levels of these particles which can have a long-term impact on your lungs.

Photocopiers and printers are commonly used electronic devices in offices, industrial settings, and households. These devices are a potential source of indoor air pollutants as they emit nanoparticles (NP), and other gaseous pollutants.

Past research has focused on emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone, and other gaseous pollutants, results of which prompted improved technologies that reduced exposures to such pollutants (e.g. ozone).

Some elements of toner are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which persist in the air for long periods of time. Some of the VOCs associated with photocopiers are benzene and decane (carcinogens), toluene (which can cause irritation and drowsiness), and xylene (which can cause kidney damage).

Areas near laser printer and copiers which are not adequately ventilated can contain dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, and poorly maintained machines can produce nitrogen oxide, a gas that produces similar effects to carbon monoxide and also affects the central nervous system in the presence of ozone.

More recently, the focus has shifted to the investigation of nanoparticle emissions, their origin and chemical composition. The peak size distribution of emitted nanoparticles is often below 50 nm, whereas the toner particles are several microns large. Nanoparticles emitted during photocopier operation are formed during the image transfer process.

A study in the Journal Nanotoxicology, investigate for the first time early human responses following a day's exposure to nanoparticles from photocopiers. Following exposure, several pro-inflammatory cytokines were elevated by up to 10 fold compared with pre-exposure levels and remained elevated for up to 36 hours. The nanoparticles from the hotocopiers induced upper airway inflammation and oxidative stress.

The most shocking fact about the toxins released by these machines is that very short exposure can cause health damage for days.

The chemical composition of nanoparticles emitted from photocopiers is best described as a mixture of organic compounds and inorganic metal oxide additives and reflects the complex toner chemistry in select copiers and printers.

The inorganic fraction of airborne NP varies with the toner formulation and may contain variable amounts of silicon (Si), sulphur (S), titanium (Ti), iron (Fe), chromium (Cr), nickel (Ni), zinc (Zn) and possibly other elements, which were also found in toners. They more likely originate from metal oxide additives in toners (e.g. fumed silica, titania, magnetite), associated impurities, and possibly the paper.

Other studies reported significant DNA damage and chromosomal aberrations in the peripheral blood samples of workers occupationally involved in photocopying.

More recently, Tang et al. investigated cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of laser printer emissions in human lung cells. They found that emissions of two out of five printers were genotoxic meaning they cause mutations within DNA.

Another study in the Journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology, show that nanoparticles from toners induced production of several inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in three human cell lines. The study reinforced earlier conclusions that copier-emitted nanoparticles are directly responsible for the induction of pro-inflammatory responses, likely through the oxidative stress pathway.

The tribo-electric explosions needed as result of the static electricity are quantitatively very small to generate the necessary inflammatory responses to produce damage. The firing necessary to produce just one page can theoretically cause the damage NP cloud that can affect the lungs for up to two days.

April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.

STAY CONNECTEDNewsletter | RSS | Twitter | YouTube |
This site is owned and operated by 1999-2018. All Rights Reserved. All content on this site may be copied, without permission, whether reproduced digitally or in print, provided copyright, reference and source information are intact and use is strictly for not-for-profit purposes. Please review our copyright policy for full details.
volunteerDonateWrite For Us
Stay Connected With Our Newsletter