A study by Queensland University of Technology has found that office laser printers could potentially pose as much of a health risk to the lungs as a drag on a cigarette. An investigation conducted on 62 laser printers revealed that nearly 30 per cent emit potentially dangerous levels of tiny toner-like material into the air.
"Ultra-fine particles are capable of infiltrating the lungs and causing lasting damage on the scale of inhaled cigarette smoke," said researcher Professor Lidia Morawska, from the Queensland University of Technology. "Ultra-fine particles are of most concern because they can penetrate deep into the lungs where they can pose a significant health threat."
The tests were conducted in a large open-plan space under normal working conditions. It was found that indoor particle levels in the office air increased five-fold during work hours due to printer use. "Printers emitted more particles when the cartridge was new and when printing graphics and images," warned Prof. Morawska.