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Office Printers May Pose Health Risks

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the like-the-one-to-my-immediate-right dept.

Printer 227

drewmoney writes "The BBC reports on new findings which may have implications for the way offices are laid out. According to an Australian study, around a third of modern printer models release 'potentially dangerous levels of toner into the air' as they are completing a job. 'Almost one-third were found to emit ultra-tiny particles of toner-like material, so small that they can infiltrate the lungs and cause a range of health problems from respiratory irritation to more chronic illnesses. Conducted in an open-plan office, the test revealed that particle levels increased five-fold during working hours, a rise blamed on printer use. '"

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we've solved this problem (5, Funny)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056477)

We worked out an agreement with all the smokers on the floor. We've installed our printer outside the front entrance about 20 feet away from the door. That's where all of the smokers go to take a break... they're saving money on cigarettes, and the office air is clean. Of course, it's a bit of a hassle waiting for the smokers to bring in our printouts.

Re:we've solved this problem (1)

FlatLine84 (1084689) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056629)

I can see the ads for ambulance chasers in the future... "I've you've been diagnosed with Tonertheilioma, fight for your right to compensation!"

Re:we've solved this problem (1)

HitekHobo (1132869) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056653)

If this plan gets adopted, it's going to negate the need for me to post scare stories on /. about toner.

Knock it off, you're ruining my income from ink jet refills!

Re:we've solved this problem (0, Flamebait)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056731)

Have you ever seen a printer coming from an envrionment where people are smoking... A pristine white plastic printer becomes a near brown printer. The gears get covered with cigerette tar, I have seen some so bad (on solid Ink printers) that the heads were clogged and the printer needed new heads. They are absolutly discusting... And you people willingly breath in this stuff? And it took hundreds of years before doctors realized that smoking is bad for you? Man you people sure are dumb.

Re:we've solved this problem (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20057221)

discusting?

fuckwad

Re:we've solved this problem (5, Insightful)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057235)

They are absolutly discusting...

It's disgusting, and this isn't limited to printers. Keyboards, cases, anything that touches smoke is going to get brown. Well, "dark-beige", if you want. I'm guilty myself for smoking.

Doctors realised a long time ago that smoke was bad for you. I've seen quotes of over 100 years old saying that "smoke was vile". Anyway, you also have to realise that smoking became way more common with the introduction of the cigarette that was made to be smoked anytime anyplace. A hundred years ago, the man came home and smoke a pipe and only one because tobacco was hugely expensive and a big luxury. Cigars were the same: you took time to enjoy them. Cigarettes changed that all. So the amount consumed was way less than it was not, making the health impact much less.

I don't like cigarettes at all, as you might have understood by now. Yet, I love my cigars.

Re:we've solved this problem (4, Funny)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056893)

they're saving money on cigarettes
Not until they make nicotine toner cartridges they aren't.

Re:we've solved this problem (5, Funny)

Heftklammerdosierer! (846009) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057191)

Call it Nicotoner. A catchy name means you're half way to success already!

Then a few years later market the Nicotoner Patch, promising to finally usher in the era of paperless offices.

Re:we've solved this problem (3, Funny)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057347)

That's like the dodgy landlord who asked all prospective tenants if they smoked ..... if you said "yes" he put you in a house with asbestos, and if you said "no" he put you in a house with a gas leak.

pirst fost (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20056489)



  First post!

    No wonder there is so much cancer these days

Great! (1)

CaptScarlet22 (585291) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056497)

I'll have to put one right next to my supervisor, then.

Thanks for the tip!!

I smell settlement! (1)

BabaYama (899483) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056499)

When do I get my coupon for one(1) free toner cartridge?

it's for their own good (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20056507)

See... I've always told my employees that we lock them up in isolation chambers for their own good.

Paper shredders do this too (5, Interesting)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056509)

They release both paper dust and toner dust. I've known people who've gotten several sinus infections over their tenure near large print/shred stations (several B/W and color printers, fax, fine grain shredders.)

Get a portable HEPA filter and droop it in the vicinity of your printers and your problems (if you have any) will get measurably better.

Re:Paper shredders do this too (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056785)

Our body can deal with normal dust size particles, including from paper... toner dust is extreamly fine, you need a special vaccume to really clean this stuff up. Breathing it would probably have simular effects of smoking being that the dust is so fine that you body cant expel it from the body causing irratitions.

Management perspective (3, Funny)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056525)

Managers across the country have been heard mumbling things like "Forget the employees, how can we recover all of this lost toner to extend toner cartridge life and reduce print costs?" and "So that's why our toner life was never as long as the brochure".

Re:Management perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20056783)

I once worked in an office where the air was kept intolerably dry - I'm talking nosebleeds and sinus infections dry. This was not a semiconductor cleanroom or anything like that, just a regular office.

When these concerns were brought to management, they responded by saying dry air is better for the computers and other electronic equipment. It didn't seem to matter that these conditions were impacting their meat-based assets, they were totally focused on preserving their electronic assets.

Re:Management perspective (1)

vought (160908) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057375)

When these [dry air] concerns were brought to management, they responded by saying dry air is better for the computers and other electronic equipment

Sure! Because dry air makes static, and static is electricity...and, uh, computers run on electricity!

I'd think the biggest air quality issues have to do with older laser printers that not only fluff toner, but which also have depleted ozone filters. An office full of ozone is definitely bad news - and every LaserJet 4 or 5 I've seen over the past few years has been one of these 'gross polluters'.

Let's not forget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20056527)

You can allways sue every printer maker if you live in the US.

Re:Let's not forget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20056827)

You can allways sue every printer maker if you live in the US.
Because we all know nobody in any country other than the US has ever sued anyone else.

Obvious (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056533)

Particulate pollution is common. If you live in a big city, you know what I'm talking about, just by seeing the crap that accumulates on your clothes after walking around for a few hours.

This study says nothing that isn't trivially obvious. Does airborne toner represent a particular health threat above and beyond the whole "breathing particles into your lungs" thing, or is this just another "ZOMG! Stuff in the air!" study with no actual facts to back it up. Doubly annoying for them to compare it to smoking, because the least problem with smoking is the particulates.

Re:Obvious (2, Informative)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056631)

Depends if this is particulate toner after thermal processing or particulate toner in the form found in the cartridge.

Dunno about the former as it is bound to have larger and less active particles, but the latter is a known health hazard on par with glass dust and asbestos. Just look at any IT health and safety handbook under "dealing with toner spillages". It is supposed to be collected using specialised vacuum cleaners, you have to have the floor tiles replaced and so on. Unfortunately very few people follow these procedures.

Further to this, I find these findings quite strange. Most manufacturers go to insane lengths to avoid toner emission into the air so that they do not get an asbestos style class action suit.

Re:Obvious (5, Informative)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056797)

Further to this, I find these findings quite strange. Most manufacturers go to insane lengths to avoid toner emission into the air so that they do not get an asbestos style class action suit.

Eh, maybe for smaller office printers they do but not in the commercial "toner" printing industry (like phone bills and the like). My company's printers (and our competitors) dust the entire room at an alarming rate. After working on a more dirty problem it's very likely to come out looking like a coal miner, black snot and all.

The problem is these get installed in your typical raised-floor computer rooms in the same area as storage and CPU's, sometimes not more than 10-20 feet away.

Toner isn't asbestos. Sure it's particulate and it may even be harmful (as an obstruction, like anything else) but there are way too many lifelong printer repairman in my company and lung/breathing issues are no more common here than anywhere else. I know a large number of them personally and the health problems just don't exist in any substantial amount. The division that deals with HDD and tape manufacturer has had a lot more public health issues with their materials.

Sure our company has funded studies which say Carbon Black is not harmful, but of course we all take this with a large grain of salt. I rely much more highly on the people I have personally known over the years.

Re:Obvious (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057215)

Sure it's particulate and it may even be harmful. So is asbestous. Chemically asbestous is a very inert material. You are right, so far the statistical evidence is that toner it is not particularly harmfull. None the less, I have always tried to chose the furthest possible part of an open office plan from the printing station.

Re:Obvious (2, Informative)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057007)

Further to this, I find these findings quite strange. Most manufacturers go to insane lengths to avoid toner emission into the air so that they do not get an asbestos style class action suit.

Today's my last day on the job as my company's resident "printer bitch." After a year and a half on the job I can safely say that most the toner emission doesn't usually come from normal use. It comes from directly from fucksticks.

Over time, printers will spill some toner that will eventually work its way out of the printer and into the air. It happens. But more often than not you get huge toner spills because some idiot goes slamming and banging cheap cartridges. Apparently, the non-technical response to any printer or fax problem is "pull the toner out and put it back in" (I think this is directly related to the "take out the cartridge and blow on it" NES repair method.) this invariably leads to someone getting pissy, slamming the cartridge back in the machine, and breaking a seal. Now you've got toner spilling out every time someone dicks with the cartridge. I've cleaned out printers that took multiple vacuum filters to clean out. Panasonic faxes were the worst for this, their carts. would crack and spill in a heartbeat.

People can bitch about this as an office hazard, but if the employees would act like adults around the equipment, it wouldn't be an issue in the first place. But no, some idiot thinks it'd be cool to pull a Samir on the fax machine.

(actually, I think I will will pull a Samir later this afternoon. I'll just take the toner out first...)

Re:Obvious (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056689)

http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/house hold/brands?tbl=brands&id=8020008&query=Toner&sear chas=type&prodcat=all [nih.gov]

"Prolonged inhalation of excessive amounts of any dust may cause lung damage. Use of this product as intended does not result in inhalation of excessive amounts of dust."

They rate it as low risk mainly BECAUSE it's not airborne during normal use. This study says that it is. It also says it's a possible carcinogen.

I just picked a cartridge at random, so there may be some out there that are much worse, but this pretty much shows that they didn't spend much time dealing with the effects of airborne toner, because they didn't think it would be a problem.

As for the 'big city' 'pollution is common' statement... I instantly got an image of Neo-Tokyo where everyone was wearing masks because the smog was so hazardous that day. -sigh- I'm starting to consider it myself, and I don't even work/live in a big city.

Re:Obvious (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057055)

I wasn't aware that toner dust was being emitted. I was aware that the printers do emit ozone though, I smell a faint hint of it from time to time. It might be a double-whammy, though the toner seems minuscule to non-existent in comparison.

Re:Obvious (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057229)

Yep. In our new office building, the rooms with the copiers and high speed printers have special filtration and air handling systems, so we're told not to prop open the doors. We still have lasers out in the general area, though.

Print job (1)

kc2keo (694222) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057315)

I'll be printing the Gentoo handbook out now... har har.

Re:Obvious (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057553)

Having worked where there is a lot of coal dust in the air and occasional asbestos I'm not ready to dismiss it out of hand (especially since I haven't read the article yet). What is important is size, shape, numbers and what it does when it gets in your lungs. Inert material is suprisingly paticularly nasty - it doesn't break down so it stays in there to scratch away at lung tissue as your lungs move (major cause of damage from asbestos).

Hm? (1)

ed.mps (1015669) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056539)

Air conditioners are better in making your health crappier along the work time... --- oblygatory: but about the printers, anyone has ever imagined a beowulf cluster of these?

Why do people still print? (1, Offtopic)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056553)

I work in an office where there are nice projectors in every conference room and everyone has a lap top. Still, there are a few dinosaurs that bring stacks of printed slides for everyone in a meetingif they are presenting. Why do some people still do this? In my opinion, and printer is about as valuable in a modern office as horse stalls are in a modern firehouse.

Re:Why do people still print? (2, Insightful)

HitekHobo (1132869) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056701)

Err.. I have killed a tree or two printing out RFC's because it was just more comfortable to read them in a different position. Bad hacker! Bad!

Re:Why do people still print? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20057041)

Some people sometimes do other business than attending meetings...

Re:Why do people still print? (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057045)

Why do some people still do this?

They need -something- to do!

Re:Why do people still print? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20057161)

Because 8" x 10" tablets are still being spec'ed as laptops, rather than cheap, light PDF viewers. I'm still searching for a device which is:
  • the size (or close to) of letter paper
  • Has the minimum horsepower to render PDFs (and maybe HTML, but this is optional)
  • Low weight and power usage commensurate with above
  • 1 USB port (so I can copy files to it like it were an external HD)
  • 1 CF or SD expansion slot
  • For extra credit: 802.11b for display of documents on the network (HTTP, SMB, whatever)
  • Even more extra credit: Touch screen *only* if it provided some kind of document search interface. Otherwise, forget it.
No CD-ROM drive, no hard drive, no Windows XP, no 1 GB of RAM, no wired ethernet. I have a lot of PDF papers and reference materials. If I could throw them onto a 4 GB SD card and read them on something like this, I'd be ecstatic.

Re:Why do people still print? (1)

Suzuran (163234) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057361)

So, basically, something like an iPhone, but bigger and without the phone?

Re:Why do people still print? (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057551)

while you wait, you kill trees and endanger your co-workers. Why is that OK?

Re:Why do people still print? (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057165)

Why do some people still do this?


Uh...because you can't have people sign contracts that are being projected on a screen. Well, you could, but I don't know if you'd want to.

Re:Why do people still print? (5, Insightful)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057295)

In my opinion, and printer is about as valuable in a modern office as horse stalls are in a modern firehouse.

Why do I still print?

Because when I have 3 or more documents I'm reading to review etc, it's more convenient to be able to

a) flick between the pages of different documents

b) underline/highlight/ make notes in the margins

c) carry them with me/ dump them on a couch/chair while reading.

d) I often need the computer screen to write a review document.

My PC screen's resolution isn't up to the job of having multiple documents open side-by-side (and the laptop's is even worse). Furthermore,the interface to Acrobat/Word/anything for that matter, is pathetically slow. A mouse and keyboard are no substitute for human hands on paper combined with a simple pen.

Maybe when we have desks that are touch sensitive LCDs with 10k*10k resolution, things may change.

PC Load Letter.... (3, Funny)

Njoyda Sauce (211180) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056563)

Time to get the bats out again.

Inkjet printers do not have this problem... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20056573)

...only laser printers shed toner powder into the air.

Re:Inkjet printers do not have this problem... (1)

Klaidas (981300) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056635)

I believe this might be because they DON'T use toner? [/sarcasm]
No, really, thanks capt. Obvious.

Re:Inkjet printers do not have this problem... (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057429)

Pity, really. If they did, you could double the value of your clothes by standing next to one!

Am I safe? (3, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056577)

Do I have to worry about the toner particles when I open up my e-mails? Or is it only a problem if I open the attachment?

Re:Am I safe? (1)

KoldKompress (1034414) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057023)

Why is this modded offtopic? I thought it was pretty funny.

As a PHB, this concerns me (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056587)

As the major PHB in my firm, I have sent a memo urging the recall of all our original dot matrix printers.

Does anyone know where I can obtain perforated fanfold paper from anymore?

Re:As a PHB, this concerns me (1)

InvalidError (771317) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057233)

I have a box here with about 3000 sheets left...

BTW, I vaguely remember reading similar health warnings about matrix printers related to ink/ink-ribbon/paper dust generated by the pin impacts in high-speed departmental monsters from the 80's.

Inorganic fine particulates have been a health hazard for as long as we have known of their existence... that toner got five minutes of shame for being such a material today is not much of a surprise.

Re:As a PHB, this concerns me (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057555)

We still have a dot matrix hooked up to our scintillation counter. And damn it if it doesn't print right over the seam every time. Still it's a nice bit of nostalgia to have around, I do love that sound.

No worries - they still have a perfect scapegoat (1, Troll)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056599)

Smog (you should see a typical Chinese city nowadays - it's downright chewable), Toxic fumes from nearly every type of mechanical combustion and any outdoor process that stirs up dust, now this... and yet the news is still soaked with how 'those eeevil smokers' are out to kill us all with their eeevil second-hand smoke.

Will this study form a new scapegoat? Nah. It's easier to simply blame people who partake of a particular vice, especially since it's politically correct to hate anyone who participates in it.

On a less grouchy rantish side, where are the toner particulate measurements taken on average, anyway? The nearest printers in my office are 20 meters away...

/P

Re:No worries - they still have a perfect scapegoa (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20057021)

especially since it's politically correct to hate anyone who participates in it.

No, we hate people who participate in it because of their unbelievably rude practice of subjecting everybody else to their filthy reeking emissions. Stale smoke smells like fucking shit.

Since so few smokers through the years have taken it upon themselves to do the civilized thing and ensure that nobody around them has to experience their vile backwashed fumes, the victims are banding together to help the smokers learn what should have been common courtesy.

Re:No worries - they still have a perfect scapegoa (3, Insightful)

Marty_Krapturd (817250) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057479)

*** HOW ABOUT? ***

No, we hate people who participate in it because of their unbelievably rude practice of subjecting everybody else to their filthy reeking emissions. Car exhaust smells like fucking shit.

Since so few drivers through the years have taken it upon themselves to do the civilized thing and ensure that nobody around them has to experience their vile backwashed fumes, the victims are banding together to help the drivers learn what should have been common courtesy.

*** OR ***

No, we hate people who participate in it because of their unbelievably rude practice of subjecting everybody else to their filthy reeking emissions. The average bean fart smells like fucking shit.

Since so few bean eaters through the years have taken it upon themselves to do the civilized thing and ensure that nobody around them has to experience their vile backwashed fumes, the victims are banding together to help the bean eaters learn what should have been common courtesy.

*** OR EVEN ***

No, we hate people who participate in it because of their unbelievably rude practice of subjecting everybody else to their filthy reeking emissions. Shit smells like fucking shit.

Since so few defecators through the years have taken it upon themselves to do the civilized thing and ensure that nobody around them has to experience their vile backwashed fumes, the victims are banding together to help the defedators learn what should have been common courtesy.

*** DISCLAIMER: I'm a reformed tobacco smoker. Used to smoke 2 packs a day for about 10 years. Quit cold turkey. It wasn't the idea of 5 fewer years in my life, but 5 years of slow gurgling death that convinced me.

Ozone and Toner (1)

David Off (101038) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056619)

I thought the EU and national governments had already issued health guidance for laser printers in Europe because they are known to emit dangerous levels of Ozone and other chemicals. As I recall printers had to be a certain number of meters away from the nearest desk and in a well ventilated office. Here is some existing information I found by googling:-

http://www.lhc.org.uk/members/pubs/factsht/76fact. pdf [lhc.org.uk]

http://www.safety.ed.ac.uk/resources/General/print ers.shtm [ed.ac.uk]

Certainly under United Kingdom health and safety legislation employers should not locate printers next to employee workstations. Although most IT workplaces I've worked in seem to flout these regulations to some extent - particuarly wrt to printer location, cabling and fire safety.

Re:Ozone and Toner (3, Interesting)

Ravenscall (12240) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056733)

At least here in the US part of the issue is the users as well. I cannot count the number of times a printer was down and I had users grumbling that they had to walk 20 yards as opposed to 5 to get thier printouts. It is not as simple as employee morale being inversely related to distance from printers, but the way they complain you would think it is.

Probably says something about why we have an obesity epidemic to boot.

Re:Ozone and Toner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20056853)

Most modern lazer printers don't emit near the levels of Ozone that older models did. Some don't put out Ozone at all.

Just a comment. No, I'm not logging in from work to use my real account.

Re:Ozone and Toner (1)

David Off (101038) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056955)

have you any sources for this? If I had mod points I would mod this as interesting, or informative, or something.

Nice to have something to point to (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056625)

At a previous job, my desk was next to two printers. I kept feeling sick, and blamed it on the printers, but its not always easy to convince management of that without some kind of study to point to.

(They did listen, once I started using sick days.)

Is it really that bad? (1)

Cedric Tsui (890887) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056627)

How do these dangerous particles compare to those of say... a single lit candle?

The human body has a way of defending itself against all sorts of nasty stuff. Generally, things aren't bad for you unless you're exposed in excess. Apples contain cyanide, potatoes contain solanine, and cars emit carbon monoxide. Let's avoid all of them!

Re:Is it really that bad? (1)

KoldKompress (1034414) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057081)

It's all to do with dosage. You'd need to eat a couple of kilograms of green potatoes to get enough solanine to kill you. If you're next to a few printers every day that are shooting out toner dust into your lungs, it could clog it up similar to Asbestos - or is that not really that bad either?

Re:Is it really that bad? (1)

Cedric Tsui (890887) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057543)

Oops. Sorry. I wasn't clear.

I was trying to say that somethings are harmful in excess but are harmless in small amounts (like the potatoes).
I am skeptical that printers exceed this threshold despite the scientists' claim. I would be interested to see the particulate levels of these printers as compared to those of candles, oil lanterns and the like.

For one, it is clear that the particulate levels from printers do not come close to those of cigarette smoke as you can see the latter and not the former in the air.

Re:Is it really that bad? (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057317)

So if I understand your logic, since apples contain cyanide and do not seem to be dangerous, it's OK to expose yourself to some more cyanide for no particular reason.
The idea with laser printers is not to ban their use, but simply to put them in dedicated places where no worker spends over 2000 hours every year.

Re:Is it really that bad? (1)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057449)

The human body has a way of defending itself against all sorts of nasty stuff. Generally, things aren't bad for you unless you're exposed in excess. Apples contain cyanide, potatoes contain solanine, and cars emit carbon monoxide. Let's avoid all of them!
Yes, the body has a way of defending itself against all sorts of nasty stuff that have been naturally occuring in our habitat during evolution. Humans have no defense against sub 10 micrometer particles and they can get straight down to the pulmonary alveoli.

EPA information about particle pollution can be found at http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=particle.cover [airnow.gov]

I always knew I... (1)

MeditationSensation (1121241) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056671)

...smelled something funny in the air around LASER printers. So if I owned a LASER printer, can I collect as part of a fat class action lawsuit? :-)

don't forget the effect on your blood pressure (1)

clem (5683) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056675)

"PC Load Letter"? What the fuck does that mean?

Re:don't forget the effect on your blood pressure (0, Redundant)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057029)

It means to load more letter sized paper.

Re:don't forget the effect on your blood pressure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20057475)

British Health Warnings (1)

locokamil (850008) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056693)

I'll be honest: whenever I hear about a new health risk coming from the British press, I just tune it out and start thinking of how they banned wifi in schools to protect young sebastion [slashdot.org] .

Re:British Health Warnings (1)

Ravenscall (12240) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056845)

We're only making plans for Nigel.

Re:British Health Warnings (1)

pev (2186) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057503)

Nice attitude. Oddly enough our American cousins were similarly bullish in 1982 when car seatbelts became compulsory in the UK. This is estimated to save around 2000 lives a year (we have 64Million-ish population for those not in the know).

Then again this is exactly what evolution is all about and I'm all for Darwin's finest theory. If you want to breathe in toner, not wear a seatbelt or ride a motorcycle without a helmet etc Go For It.

~Pev

Which ones? (1)

lancelotlink (958750) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056711)

Anyone know if there is a list of printers they found to be ultra nasty? I did read the article and didn't find anything. It would be nice to know if I'm still getting hosed after quitting smoking. Makes me feel like what's going to happen to us after Bush leaves office.

I am very skeptical of this... (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056723)

1. It is exactly the kind of scare tactic news stories that papers spread when EVERY scientist in the world disagrees with them. 2. It is being reported by the BBC, but Australian scientists made the claim. Could the Australians not find a SINGLE Australian paper that thought they were believeable as well as sensational?

Printer rooms (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056779)

This was one of the reasons older offices had printer rooms. Smell, noise, dust and printing mistakes stayed out of sight. I wish more people did this now, because these printers while greatly improved are still smelly, noisy, dusty, greasy and prone to spit out bad jokes, spam, misplaced personal data and "best of" Slashdot trolls, at least in this office.

Administration response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20056809)

In his State of the Union address Bush responded:

"Very credible sources indicate that Al Qaeda operatives inside Iraq have been manufacturing most of these printers as a means to undermine our freedom. We have it on very good authority that Iran has been supplying biochemical assistance to these operatives. Our military commanders are confident that if we just continue our surge with a few thousand more soldiers in Iraq we will have victory in our war on terror and provide everlasting stabilization to the Middle East. With every page that we print let us recall the extremes to which the Axis of Evil will go to eliminate everything that we stand for."

solution (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056863)

So should we all move towards solid ink [xerox.com] . Less consumables, no getting dirty refilling toner cartridges. No toner cartridges to throw away, although there is one major consumable every 7-10K pages. I guess if a toner is refilled at least three times it is about the same.

"Black lung" for the office set? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20056909)

Someone call Scott Adams because I smell one excellent Dilbert series ahead. Just picture Wally crawling on the carpet, barely moving, pager in one hand and singing "Sixteen tons and what do you get ..." =)

Re:"Black lung" for the office set? (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057309)

The only way a dilbert could ever be excellent would be if he suicided.

I used to sit next to a printer (1)

ianpm (787890) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056963)

And I thought at the time, this can't be especially good for my health.

Should I start the litigation now?

Excellent (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056979)

One more reason to park the printer in a separate room behind a closed door. We used to have a printer in our (open-plan) office. The noise and the smell drove me crazy. I managed get the printer banished eventually. I still can't believe what people will subject themselves to, to save having to get up and walk 10m to get their printouts. When you're sitting in an office for 8h/day, any excuse to get up and stretch your legs should be welcome.

Good try, but... (1)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056983)

Try looking at the big picture. Laser printers, except for the controller circuitry and print interface, use the exact same technology of common Xerographic copy machines (first invented around 1938, almost 70 years ago). Of which Xerographic copiers have been in use over 2 times as long as laser printers (invented in 1971 by Xerox). So why is this now suddenly such a big deal?

First they blamed the cars, then smokers, then power plants, then trucks, now laser printers? Why don't we just throw up our hands and walk around with oxygen tanks and masks.

Re:Good try, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20057193)

First they blamed the cars, then smokers, then power plants, then trucks, now laser printers? Why don't we just throw up our hands and walk around with oxygen tanks and masks.
Seriously! This obsession with health and living long, comfortable lives is getting out of control! We need to stop identifying possible sources of pollution and just accept that we will die preventable deaths!

...or.... we could identify the biggest health risks, work to mitigate them, and then move on to the next level of health risks and see if there is any way to mitigate them, too. No one is arguing for a total ban on printers--but if they have a health impact that can be measured and reduced, why not do it?

Re:Good try, but... (2, Insightful)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057457)

"So why is this now suddenly such a big deal?"

Let's see... because, on 9/11 alone, more people died prematurely of cancer than of terrorism. Office pollution is the most dangerous thing around, but it is something that can be easily corrected (of course, if walking 5m to get a printout is a problem to you, odds are you already have a short life expectancy).

"Why don't we just throw up our hands and walk around with oxygen tanks and masks?"

Because, 1- in excess, O2 is toxic and 2- large scale bottled O2 production is rather expensive and polluting (the power requirement alone is huge).

What about walking? (2, Interesting)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 7 years ago | (#20056989)

Conducted in an open-plan office, the test revealed that particle levels increased five-fold during working hours, a rise blamed on printer use.
I'm just throwing out the idea that many people walking around on the carpet during office hours may be kicking up toner dust that has settled in the carpet. You'd be amazed how much crap is kicked up from a carpet with just a few people walking on it. For those of us with wood floors, how long after you mop or clean the floor until you see dust starting to collect? For me, it's a week or so. Imagine all that being churned by people walking on it all day.

Re:What about walking? (1)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057241)

You'd be amazed how much crap is kicked up from a carpet with just a few people walking on it. For those of us with wood floors, how long after you mop or clean the floor until you see dust starting to collect? For me, it's a week or so. Imagine all that being churned by people walking on it all day.

I couldn't agree with this more. My offices are vacuumed about once a month, it's so disgusting.

What's even funnier is watching the cleaning crew come in and "dust off" the tall cabinets. This involves taking a feather duster and knocking it all off the tall cabinet onto my desk (and usually my coffee mug)

xerox copy room has thick air (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20056991)

the photocopy machine room at work. the air is thick and warm and nasty in that room.
never thought about the particle aspect. if I wear a filter mask it will freak people out.
also, when young i had a full time job copying files for state attorney general. never thought
about particle aspect. i think it is a significant issue. i worked in one gov bldg that had mold in it, needed to be torn down. living under bushco sucks. people in gov management ignore things to the point of it being criminal. the just want the check especially where it comes to condition of bldgs. it confronts the we are #1 propaganda. buschco is criminal. need 9/11 truth. go to ae911 truth.org . licensed architects and engineers. the time is now for pressure on the crooks and the suffering they caused through their ritual sacrifice to manipulatively shock and awe the public before looting the gov money through unchecked private contracting.

Way to go Beeb... (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057043)

Funny how an article on the dangers of toner in the air is using a picture of an HP inkjet printer.

Bad Science (1)

giafly (926567) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057067)

the test revealed that particle levels [in the air] increased five-fold during working hours, a rise blamed on printer use.
Alternatively, there are more airborne particles by day because:
  • by night, the office is empty, and the little particles land on furniture and carpets.
  • by day, the office is full of people, who move about and launch them back into the air.

Re:Bad Science (1)

ianpm (787890) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057147)

I refuse to accept that the BBC would ever engage in bad science. Don't forget, they are the ones who put us onto the dangers of WiFi [bbc.co.uk] and more recently, kids fighting on YouTube [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:Bad Science (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057489)

So what, because toxic particules can land on furnitures and the become airbone again before being breathed, it makes them less toxic?

That fresh printer smell (4, Funny)

techiemikey (1126169) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057113)

Well, this explains why i always like that "fresh printer smell" after printing out a document at work. I always thought it was just the sense of accomplishment, but apparently it's just yet another thing bad for me. Figures...first the McDonalds...now the printers.

Re:That fresh printer smell (2, Informative)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057507)

For the record, that "fresh printer smell" is Ozone generated by the high-voltage corona wires charging the drum (and the air). Toner is just a really dry feeling in your nose.

I agree with the moderation, though...funny :)

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20057127)

It's not just for miners anymore.

MICR Toner is carcinogenic (1)

Centurix (249778) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057311)

I've had to deal a fair bit with lasers which print financial stubs at the bottom of a page with the magnetic MICR toner. That stuff is certified carcinogenic, with lots of warnings on the box to handle with special gloves and wear a mask while changing toner over. Nasty stuff.

Re:MICR Toner is carcinogenic (1)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057539)

You must be dealing with a really wacky brand of MICR toner, as this isn't true for the vast majority of applications. I work directly with the engineers that have to certify and chemically test ever piece that goes into our machines, and MICR gets no special exception compared to anything else.

Not that I wouldn't recommend everyone wear masks when dealing with any particulate. Breathing in anything but what the body expects is "bad", period.

Obligatory Comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20057455)

One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them. I, for one, welcome our new printer overlords.

Unlikely (2, Informative)

tomkost (944194) | more than 7 years ago | (#20057531)

I used to repair copiers and printers for a living. I would come home and have to blow my nose to get all the toner out. Never noticed any ill effects. I'm sure there are some people who might be allergic, but not many. Toner is mixture of polyester, carbon, and wax, none of which is known to be very harmful. Check the MSDS. http://www.lanier.com/page.php/toner%20msds [lanier.com] . Perhaps the color toner is worse, they did not have that in my day.

Probably just another alarmist story from the UK...
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