Laser Printers May Be as Harmful as Cigarettes

Illustration for article titled Laser Printers May Be as Harmful as Cigarettes

Bad news, office drones: That laser printer sitting in your cubicle might be doing some serious damage to your health. It turns out that one third of all laser printers emit tiny particles of toner that, when inhaled, have similar effects as secondhand smoke. Awesome!


The printers are more dangerous when they're used a lot, especially for graphic and photo heavy prints that require a lot of toner. In an open office setting, tests revealed that particle levels in the air increased five-fold during the working day due to printer use. That's such fun news, isn't it? And here you were eating salads, jogging and not smoking, and it's going to be your laser printer that does you in. Life sure is hilarious sometimes. [BBC]



I'd venture to guess that the ozone that these printers (and moreover bigger photocopiers) emit is worse for you than the minute amounts of toner they spit out.

Fact: Toner is statically charged plastic powder. If it were coming out of the printer in any sort of volume, enough to be harmful at all, it would collect all over the printer and its surroundings in a sooty mess. Most people don't scrub up around their print station, so you'd see it after a week or so.

If you're dealing with toner, wear gloves if you can. If you get some on you, wipe it off with a dry cloth first, then cold water. If it gets in your clothes, same thing. It mostly just brushes off and needs heat to do anything. Don't breathe it in, don't leave empty cartridges laying around. Most companies have recycling programs for the empties.