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HP to Researchers, 'Our Printers Are Safe'

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the still-legal-in-three-states dept.

HP 89

Sidepocket_Pro sent us a link to this HP press release which reads, "Based on our own testing, HP knows that many variables can affect the outcome of tests for ultrafine particle emissions. Although HP is not aware of all of the specific methodologies used in the Queensland study, based on what we've seen in the report — as well as our own work in this area — we do not believe there is a link between printer emissions and any public health risk. Specifically, HP does not see an association between printer use by customers and negative health effects for volatile organic compounds, ozone or dust. While we recognize ultrafine, fine, and coarse particles are emitted from printing systems, these levels are consistently below recognized occupational exposure limits."

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If they say so, I believe them (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20112619)

Just like I *cough* believe the cigarette *cough* companies.

Re:If they say so, I believe them (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20112639)

And yet you believe the researchers whose findings will land them millions in funding for future research? Never believe in the authority of science, it is simply a folly.

"Millions in funding" from who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20112783)

You seem to know naught about academic funding. It's unlikely that these researchers will get "millions in funding", as you so claim.

We know right off the bat that they probably won't get industrial funding, at least not from HP and the other printer manufacturers. They could possibly get funding from those offering competing products. However, such money is better spent on R&D, rather than what essentially would amount to propaganda. So again, it's unlikely that they'd get industrial funding. Keep in mind that industrial funding makes up most of the funding that many researchers in the engineering, science, and medical fields receive.

So beyond that, they'd need to get funding from the government. Even in Europe and Asia where government funding of academia is prevalent, it's doubtful that they'd get anywhere near $1000000 (or the equivalent in the local currency), let alone some multiple of that.

There just aren't any grassroots organizations against printer dust. On the other hand, there is a large anti-smoking movement in many nations. So it's plausible that an anti-smoking researcher could get funding from such group. But such groups don't exist to fund these toner-dust researchers!

Re:If they say so, I believe them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20112879)

a little off topic, but i've heard that their printers also save documents, so if you sold it to someone else and that person had the know how, they could print out documents you've previoulsy printed out. anyone know if thats true and have documentation or link to corrobarate it?

Re:If they say so, I believe them (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113103)

Not possible currently since the amount of memory that would take would be obvious and very visible (don't forget you for quite a few printer need to more or less disassemble the printer to do common maintenance on it (fill paper change toner change drum) ) and im sure we have "here" a few people that got so hacked off at a printer they did smash it (BOFH style percussive maintanence )

besides the answer is simple use the printer till it drops then smash the thing (bag up the bits for recycling)

Re:If they say so, I believe them (1)

scottv67 (731709) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113363)

Not possible currently since the amount of memory that would take would be obvious and very visible

A quick search with Google returned this little beauty. Is 20GB enough storage for you? Printers (some models, not all) have had hard drives inside them for quite a while now.

http://www.superwarehouse.com/HP_20_GB_Hard_Drive/ J6073A/p/432874 [superwarehouse.com]

Re:If they say so, I believe them (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 7 years ago | (#20115079)

That would be rather easy to remove, though; making it easy to avoid the kind of situation the GGP was talking about.

Re:If they say so, I believe them (1)

GuidoW (844172) | more than 7 years ago | (#20115189)

Only if you know about it in the first place. It appears even most slashdotters don't.

Re:If they say so, I believe them (1)

scottv67 (731709) | more than 7 years ago | (#20117661)

That would be rather easy to remove, though; making it easy to avoid the kind of situation the GGP was talking about.

The post I was replying to said "Printers do not have hard drives!" I did a quick Google search to find an example of a "printer hard drive". If you want to get picky about printer hard drives that are not obvious to the printer user/owner, how about this bad boy?

http://www.office.xerox.com/userdoc/P8200/8200_Web /pdfs/internalharddrive.pdf [xerox.com]

How many people would put their printer on eBay or trade the printer in without taking a printer like that model apart to see if the printer had a hard drive installed inside? That is the question raised by the original post.

Re:If they say so, I believe them (1)

compwizrd (166184) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113675)

the JetDirect boxes in some of them save whatever you tell them.. I bought a printer off ebay that belonged to Ford Motor Company, even had the person's office number and name saved in it, along with the external facing IP still programmed.

Re:If they say so, I believe them (2, Informative)

tylernt (581794) | more than 7 years ago | (#20114367)

Some high-end HP printers and (AFAIK) all enterprise-class HP laser MFPs (Multi-Function Printers) have hard drives 5GB for older models and 20GB and up for newer. The Job Storage feature isn't enabled by default, but your system administrator can enable it for scanned and/or printed jobs. However, they can also lock down the stored jobs so only the person who scanned/printed it has access to it, via a PIN or user/pass authentication.

These products also have a "Secure Erase" feature, which will do a DoD wipe of the hard drive which you would be well advised to perform before selling it. This would prevent someone from removing the HD and putting it into a PC to view job data.

I don't work with HP's consumer-class printers so I can't comment on their job storage features. However I doubt that many of them come equipped with HDs or even support an HD upgrade, and with their limited RAM I'm pretty sure no job storage is going on except for a "reprint last job" feature which wouldn't survive a power-cycle.

Re:If they say so, I believe them (1)

chawly (750383) | more than 7 years ago | (#20118355)

And it is true - but only in the large models made by "BROTHER". What we have here is the beginning of "BIG BROTHER" as forseen by George Orwell in "1984".

The complete "Big Brother" program has been taken over by the U.S. goverment. You have heard about the Patriot Act and Home Security ? Been on a 'plane lately ? Next time take a second and notice the makers name on the printer which prints you ticket.

and the Wifi is killing us too (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113289)

Perhaps the wifi makes you cough by telling your brain

Tinfoil hat time (joke)

Re:If they say so, I believe them (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20115005)

What? You don't believe these labels that the tobacco companies willingly print on their cigarette packages?
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/tobac-tabac/legislati on/label-etiquette/graph/index_e.html [hc-sc.gc.ca]

Health Canada used to advertise that arsenic was one of the toxins present in tobacco until I told them why it was present. (The FDA allows tobacco to be grown on lands banned for food agricultural use because of contamination from old arsenic based pesticides.) They pulled those ads pretty quick. They still advertise the remaining toxins they are sure of however, even though smoking sawdust will produce all the same contaminants. It has nothing to do with tobacco.

Additionally, I proved time and time again that smokers are a net contributor to health care in Canada through the excessive taxes applied. Check the stats, its true. It is the extremely health conscious and hypochondriacs that cost the system. I have paid over $10000 in tobacco taxes in the last ten years and have not visited a doctor or a hospital even once, yet somehow I am supposed to be a burden on the health care system? Yeah sure.

People eat propaganda right up, especially if it makes them feel righteous and superior.

Re:If they say so, I believe them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20115393)

Oh Yeah? Why then, did they do an electronic press release as opposed to printing a whole bunch of flyers?

what isn't mentioned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20112633)

What they failed to mention is that the HP writeup is based on testing of inkjet printers. : p

Nail Salon (5, Funny)

redelm (54142) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112663)

... whew, that's a relief. I won't need to tell my sister to watch out for the printer at her nail polishing salon :)

Sheeple (2, Informative)

torkus (1133985) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112683)

So some research group writes a bunch of pages of nonsense and starts off the latest annoying "OMG YOUR OFFICE JOB MAY KILL YOU, News at 11" theme.

Really, sheeple will listen to anything and take it as fact. I'm an IT manager at work and someone actually came to us yesterday with 'How do we get this printer replaced, it's a huge polluter, see attached study'. Luckily it was in email so he didn't hear me laughing.

I mean, if you actually look at things there's stuff that doesn't make sense. At least one of HP's printers is listed in two different coulumns. It's 'above average but *may* be high'. So they list it in high as well. No further explanation, no reasoning, just FUD. Of course, people just automaticlly check the high column and don't read thst study or look at the others in detail.

SHEEPLE!

Re:Sheeple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20113017)

It's not FUD, while it may be statistically insignifcant for the health of average office workers when compared to having smog and smoking at the office. The "scaremongers!" response amongst Americans surprises me. Just look at other countries; some have legal distances or must use airfilters and in some places toner cartridges are supplied with a mouthpiece for your safety. Some Americans give little remarks like "that's bad research because printers were pointed while copiers were not yet they both use toner!" Well maybe the big hallway copiers being longer on the market, or because they are a lot more expensive, are now better sealed then office laser printers. I know if I open up the copier at school in the Netherlands it has big read warning stickers about staying away from the toner erea unless following safety instructions. It has no warning about sticking your fingers it the mechanism, which is common sense of course.

Anyway I'm sure HP won't be to blame as long as you replace your laserprinter after 3 years as the bussiness write-off system expects, this is years old news and all printers are tested and certified for dust blowing out during the firsts days of use.

Re:Sheeple (1)

torkus (1133985) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113151)

Some countries have laws where it's legal for a 40 year old man to have a 24 hour "temporary marriage" with a 9 year old girl. Using the existance of a law to justify your argument is worse than referring to the FUD-based study!

BTW, big hallway copiers haven't necessarialy been around longer. The old ones you might remember from school (depending on your age) were photostat machines. No toner, it was a chemical process if memory serves. The warnings you see on big copiers? Well they have loose toner in many cases (xerox comes to mind) and besides being messy, spilling and inhaling a cloud of that stuff will land you a hospital visit. Keeping in mind a cloud of printer toner is something like 50,000x more dense than the particles that come out of the printer/copier through use.

I'm not advocating sitting in a room 24/7 with 50 printers going non-stop with no air circulating. I think this is just the panic nonsense of the week.

Re:Sheeple (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113821)

in some places toner cartridges are supplied with a mouthpiece for your safety
Did you mean a dust mask? Or is this a gimp printing thing?

Re:Sheeple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20113483)

sheeple! fud! fud sheeple!

Yeah it's stupid but I just wish we could find some new words to describe it.

Re:Sheeple (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 7 years ago | (#20114023)

It isn't like we have 200+ years of laser printer usage in a cubicle environment to look back on. This is something very new in history. Why COULDN'T it be harmful? They thought asbestos was safe... lead paint... Radon... .

Re:Sheeple (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#20114279)

You know, I always thought sheeple was meant more for people who just went along with the flock and didn't make any protests about where they were being led. You know, kind of like people who blindly trust companies when companies put out statements saying that their products never hurt *anybody* and that you should trust them and keep buying from them.

At least one of HP's printers is listed in two different coulumns. It's 'above average but *may* be high'. So they list it in high as well. No further explanation, no reasoning, just FUD. Of course, people just automaticlly check the high column and don't read thst study or look at the others in detail.

Talking about yourself, I see. While I applaud you for actually tracking down the study and reading a bit or two of it, you obviously didn't do more than skim it if you you think there's "no further explanation" and "no reasoning."

It can also be seen that the same model of a printer (in this case the HP LaserJet 5) can act as either a non-emitter or a high emitter, and further investigation should be conducted for this phenomena.

They did studies in an indoor office environment as well as in a low-flow chamber. Some printers may have performed differently in the two different situations. Reread sections 2.1-2.3. Also, from section 3.3:

Further analysis conducted with the application of the K-S test showed that for particles with sizes ranging from 15 to 710 nm, there were statistically significant differences (p = 0.01) between printers, as well as between printing conditions (e.g., toner coverage and cartridge age). These results indicate that the particle emission characteristics are printer-type specific and are affected by printing conditions, such as toner coverage and cartridge age.

So there you go -- multiple test runs under differing conditions have different results that may make some printers PM-free under some conditions and horrible PM emitters under others. The researchers say that this requires further study and do *not* just arbitrarily lump a printer into one category or another but instead show that these printers fall under both in differing test runs.

I Agree (3, Interesting)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112691)

One printer isn't going to cause harm, even if you are exposed for long times. However, the office I recently worked in, had about 7 printers for various purposes, and this was an office that used a particularly amount of paper, maybe they should carry out tests in more real conditions- it may not be an issue if you are ina sterile room with a printer, but lets face it, thats not gonna happen.

Re:I Agree (3, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112731)

maybe they should carry out tests in more real conditions- it may not be an issue if you are ina sterile room with a printer, but lets face it, thats not gonna happen.
That'd be a problem for your employer rather than HP. Course, figures for emissions would be helpful for employers to decide where to site printers or how many might cause a problem.

Re:I Agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20113459)

I am inclined to think that in normal use, the reams of paper fed through the printer will emit more harmful-sized dust into the air than the toner cartridges used to print on them.

Re:I Agree (1)

dbsub9 (1110933) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113611)

I agree with you I just wanted to mention something weird that's happened to me during the 8+ years I've been involved in IT. If I'm around a laser printer as it's printing (especially when the page comes out and you get that hot feeling coming out of the printer) I get very lightheaded. It's not like I'm going to pass out face down but I feel very unsteady. Everyone at work thinks I'm a freak. I don't agree with the study but there is something weird with laser printers for me anyway (I've never heard this from anyone else. Inkjet or any other method doesn't produce any effect.

Re:I Agree (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 7 years ago | (#20116039)

FFS, any draftsman that is old enough to know what Borco and T-squares are has inhaled ammonia at least a few dozen times. That was a job for the juniors and I well remember how unpleasant it was ~25 years ago. These days people are hyper-sensitive about ANY environmental concern, no matter how slight.

People worry too much about minor things these days, I for one haven't experiev kdsgigijfsdfy as a resuly of my exposeyte to mh3 fumez..

Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern... (5, Informative)

neapolitan (1100101) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112699)

All right, as one of Slashdot's numerous physician-readers, I'll chime in...

As your intuition tells you, breathing stuff inside your lungs is, in general, quite bad. Your lung has numerous defense mechanisms that will swallow up inhaled gunk, known as macrophages, and to some degree destroy it. This system can be easily overwhelmed, and particles that are not able to be degraded by the macrophage essentially stay in the cell forever. This occurs after chronic and relatively large volume exposure, typically over many years, as common in coal miners.

When you do your human dissections in medical school it is easy to tell the lungs of a smoker on gross examination, which have numerous black dots from macrophage-ingested carbon fragments. Even city-dwellers will have these particles. Breathing in coal particles gives something called Anthracosis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthracosis [wikipedia.org] which can cause numerous problems later on if severe. Breathing in asbestos particles and silica dust also gives similar problems, and can even increase risk of some cancers (mesothelioma) although this is, relatively speaking, quite overblown (smoking is orders of magnitude worse for you than transient asbestos exposure.)

Reading through HP's statement (I'm new here), I feel it is actually well worded and reasonable. Walking past your laser printer is fine. We would all be suffering if it were a health risk. There is not a large amount of aerosol created by normal printer operation under normal conditions, and nanoparticles fine enough to be lobbed long distances (across the entire office) are typically breathed in and out and not lodged in the lungs.

In summary, avoid breathing in any huge ball of black powder. Don't take out the printer cartridge, shake, and sniff, three times per day. Stop smoking. Finally, always take sensationalist research with a grain of salt (not several grains of toner.)

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (-1, Flamebait)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112753)

Thanks for astroturfing though...

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112899)

Thanks for astroturfing though...

We need a term for postings that immediately condemn any post that happens to back up or rationally expand on information provided by a manufacturer as astroturfing. Since you're simply assuming that no one comes by their opinions honestly (unless they happen to echo you), you're really engaging in - and encouraging - a level of discourse that's as bad or worse than what you imagine you're combatting.

Is genuine "grass roots" sentiment or information that combats the opinion you hold (obviously, you think that HP is knowingly killing people and happily taking their proceeds and heading off to their vast underground lair, where they are using the captives they still have left over from the kidnapped fake-9/11-attack passengers to test new pigment-based inkjets to see which will kill customers the most slowly while still making them want to print more PowerPoint presentations than necessary) only "astroturfing" when it happens to be well worded and punctuated correctly?

How do you devine which post reflects personally held convictions or knowledge and which is from a shill? Since the GP is clearly thoughtful, informed, and able to comment constructively on the larger topic - but is none the less a shill in your estimation - we have to assume that you'd feel more comfortable with comments from reactionary, uneducated, poor communicators that happen to emotionally resonate with some vague, paranoid anti-business world view that you prefer? Idiots that rail against The Man are more credible to you than professionals and academics who cooly explain that some hysteria isn't exactly well-grounded?

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113321)

We need a term for postings that immediately condemn any post that happens to back up or rationally expand on information provided by a manufacturer as astroturfing.
"trolling", "lying", or, if you must be precise, "slashdotting".

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (1)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113543)

If you want to talk astroturfing iirc, this "random" test was comprised almost entirely of HP machines. There are a lot of other people making those things these days as well. I am willing to question the study itself purely on that basis. It has a bad odor.

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20114383)

How do you devine which post reflects personally held convictions or knowledge and which is from a shill?

The easiest way is to look at posting histories. For example Mr neapolitan seems to be a cardiologist who is often dismissive of sensationalist research but has posted on other issues. This leads me to believe that he's either real or a shill for hire to a wide variety of companies who can find a contract on short notice on a saturday.

His low uid and the fact that it's in binary make me lean towards the former :)

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (0, Flamebait)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#20116017)

That's EXACTLY what a shill would say. Shill!

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (2, Informative)

neapolitan (1100101) | more than 7 years ago | (#20117103)

Ok, have a few minutes so I'll post again.

> Thanks for astroturfing though...

Will give you the benefit of the doubt and respond (I'm new here) -- a good defense against astroturfing would be to look at the poster's record of posting, and if they are a real person, not some corporate shill or reporter. I haven't posted too much, but I assure you I'm a real person, not a paid HP representative. If you generally hate "the man" or anybody in a position of any power, I'm sorry... however, to appeal to your rationality I would point out that corporations can *help* people. I mean, the keyboard on which you are typing was made by a corporation. Your computer was too, and its processor. If you wanted a CPU made by noncommercial hippies, it would cost *more*, and would suck. OTOH, I'm not a corporate whore, and totally agree with the excesses of corporate greed and tendency toward exploitation once they get to a position of dominance -- however, that is why you intellectually analyze each position, as we did with this response from HP.

I don't believe all corporate defenses are justified, or agree with them -- I agree with HP's response, in this specific case. No, I don't own any HP stock, nor am I affiliated with them in any way.

> That's EXACTLY what a shill would say. Shill!

See above. You are silly, and didn't address any concerns, just attacked me. I won't reply.

> So doctor, what's your take on closing the lid before flushing? I've heard that leaving it open when flushing can spray tons of fecal matter around. I prefer to close it when I'm done anyways, but it's always good to be informed.

Yes, would advise shutting it if you are concerned. There is probably a fine mist of crappy particles in every bathroom if you look hard enough. However, you must separate what is gross from what can make you sick. Every time you smell your little brother's noisy bum, you are breathing in something that was in his butt. Gross? Yes. Make you sick? Not at all, if you are healthy.

>OT, I know, but does that mean that someone who's living in a city could start to suffer respiratory problems (like asthma) despite no previous symptoms as a direct result of all the crap they're breathing in?

Yup -- inner city kids have a much higher prevalence of asthma; however, a lot of studies show that it is mostly moldy indoor conditions rather than generalized smog / particles in the city. Smog knows neither ghetto nor 5th avenue apartment, so all city-dwellers should be affected equally, but some groups will have more asthma, thought to be indoor chronic exposure.

>For perspective -- how does normal-use printer dust compare with everyday household dust? how about farm dust, such as one might breathe during a long day plowing the fields or baling hay?

Farm dust is bad, and tends to be higher exposure than household dust. For these particles that are not black, indigestible (by macrophages) particles, allergic reaction and inflammation in the lung tends to give the problem. There is something called "Farmer's lung." Wikipedia is not good on this topic, so here you go. http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/farmers_lu ng.html [ccohs.ca]

>Thanks, Doc! A well-worded comment from someone who can probably spell "ridiculous" and "definitely!
>by the way, totally off topic, but love your UID =)

You're welcome. Happy to provide on my (rare) day off. :)

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112759)

So doctor, what's your take on closing the lid before flushing? I've heard that leaving it open when flushing can spray tons of fecal matter around. I prefer to close it when I'm done anyways, but it's always good to be informed.

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113919)

Mythbusters did a good experiment with this, and of course it's true that water from the toilet does spray, as you'd expect. But fecal matter is pretty much everywhere whether you close the lid or not. Your immune system can handle it, else you would be dead already.

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (1)

kklein (900361) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112917)

Thanks, Doc! A well-worded comment from someone who can probably spell "ridiculous" and "definitely!"

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (1)

denebian devil (944045) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113593)

One thing to consider is: are these expelled printer particles carcinogenic. Cigarette smoke and asbestos are, and much of their affect on the human body are related to that. Is printer in carcinogenic?

Another thing to consider is quantity. People who get breathing problems from cigarette smoke, asbestos, coal, silica, and other substances like them tend to have very high exposure rates. They smoke 2 packs a day for 30 years. They manipulate asbestos/silica containing products in the workplace 8 hours a day for 40 years. They work in or near a coal mine with little or no breathing protection. Yes, these particles can be microscopic and invisible, but most of the people who are seriously hurt by these products could see "dust" in the air while they were working.

Is the quantity that these printers are spewing excessively high? Or is it no different than "background levels" of particles people experience while walking down the streets of a major city?

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20114277)

by the way, totally off topic, but love your UID =)

In case you weren't already aware, it's a lower case e in the ascii table.

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (2, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#20115693)

OT, I know, but does that mean that someone who's living in a city could start to suffer respiratory problems (like asthma) despite no previous symptoms as a direct result of all the crap they're breathing in?

Re:Agree with HP's assessment and cautious concern (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 7 years ago | (#20115839)

For perspective -- how does normal-use printer dust compare with everyday household dust? how about farm dust, such as one might breathe during a long day plowing the fields or baling hay?

(My own method of determining dust levels: how much crap did I blow out of my nose at the end of the day? :)

I'm definitely not looking forward to (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20112721)

the day we have to march outside where the smokers hang out to retrieve our printouts, only to find that the damn machine has jammed again.

on a semi-related note... (5, Funny)

jjeffries (17675) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112791)

I was doing some "all-purpose geek" work-study for my school's IT dept some years ago. One day another work-study student gets mind to clean out one of our shop's big laser printers... with an air compressor.

POOF! went the jet of air, and a black toner cloud started to flow from the printer... and it kept coming and coming... the boss said, "everyone get out NOW" and closed the door behind us.

We weren't allowed in there again until men in fancy white suits swabbed down the entire room and the hundreds of PCs and parts within. Good times!

Third-party toner (1)

hugorxufl (1071598) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112819)

I read the HP press release, but does anyone know what testing protocols they used? If there is a difference with the toner formulations, would using a thrid-party toner put you at greater risk or remove HP's liability?

Re:Third-party toner (1)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112927)

I'm sure HP will love to tell you so, regardless of whether or not its true.

First Post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20112893)

woot!

Lube time (1)

moseman (190361) | more than 7 years ago | (#20112905)

Grease up and bend over HP. The Lawyers and lawsuits are coming. It is only a matter of time.

safe my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20112995)

Ultrafine particle emissions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20113023)

What about the yellow dots on the paper that shouldn't be there?

Great! (3, Funny)

mickq (201389) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113033)

Now I have to wear a tinfoil hat AND a gas mask at work.

And in further news... (2, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113077)

What would you expect HP to say? "We believe there is a link between printer emissions and a public health risk?" I give HP enough credit to think that if they believed there was such a link, they would have done something about it... so by definition, since they haven't done anything about it they don't believe there's a problem.

And in further news, the CEO of Altria issued this statement: "Based on our own testing, Altria knows that many variables can affect the outcome of tests for cigarette smoke particulates. Although Altria is not aware of all of the specific methodologies used in the study, based on what we've seen in the report -- as well as our own work in this area -- we do not believe there is a link between our cigarettes and lung cancer."

Re:And in further news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20113733)

"if they believed there was such a link, they would have done something about it... so by definition, since they haven't done anything about it they don't believe there's a problem."

Naive

Here's my breakdown (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113845)

Here's my breakdown of their press release.

Testing of ultrafine particles is a *very new scientific discipline. There are no indications that ultrafine particle (UFP) emissions from laser printing systems are associated with special health risks. Currently, the nature and chemical composition of such particles -- whether from a laser printer or from a toaster -- cannot be accurately characterized by analytical technology.
There isn't a significant body of research and you can't prove that the particles are causing problems.

However, many experts believe that many of the UFPs found in common household and office products are not discrete solid particles, but **may be condensation products or small droplets created during thermal processes.
The experts we're quoting don't really have proof to back up their claims either.

HP LaserJet printing systems, original HP print cartridges and papers are tested for dust release and possible material emissions and are compliant with all applicable international health and safety requirements. In addition to meeting or exceeding these guidelines, HP's design criteria for its laser printing systems incorporate guidelines from both the Blue Angel program in Germany and the Greenguard program in the United States.
We're claiming our product is safe because it meets international guidelines, which *may or may not be based on any relevant scientific data.

*we do not believe there is a link between printer emissions and any public health risk. Specifically, HP *does not see an association between printer use by customers and negative health effects for volatile organic compounds, ozone or dust.
There's no data to prove a link and none of our studies have shown that there is (probably because we haven't been looking for one).

**While we recognize ultrafine, fine, and coarse particles are emitted from printing systems, these levels are consistently below recognized occupational exposure limits.
We admit that our products put out UFPs, but since they are at levels below the guidelines, we can pretend that it's safe, since there is nothing to contradict us.

* These points are all related. Sometimes health guidelines are arbitrarily chosen. Other times, they're based on safety data from some semi-related guideline. HP tries to poke holes in the Queensland research by claiming that the field is new, yet attempts to fall back on 'the guidelines' in order to divest itself of any responsibility. There are no long term health studies, so HP is using the absence of evidence as evidence of absence.

** I'm not sure if they contradict themselves here or not, but they again try to fall back upon the guidelines as an authority.

Chalk Dust and Pencil Graphite (1, Interesting)

Arkaine101 (591667) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113131)

I can't believe some people. I'd rank printer toner in the same danger zone as chalk dust and pencil graphite.

Not only are they safe... (3, Funny)

E++99 (880734) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113143)

....but in the event that it goes crazy, there's now a kill switch.

Re:Not only are they safe... (1)

lxw56 (827351) | more than 7 years ago | (#20114361)

new slashdot meme?

in Soviet Russia ... (1)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 7 years ago | (#20115061)

*you* kill the printer?

Toner Remanufacturers (3, Informative)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113171)

A family member has run a toner remanufacturing business for nearly 20 years now. They have a filtration system in the room where cartridges are stripped down to pieces, rebuilt, and then refilled. But the room is still filthy even with fancy filtration. In the next room over, they have about 20 laser printers for testing, but no special filtration.

In the 20 years of doing this, not one of their employees has had any lung problems.

Re:Toner Remanufacturers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20113571)

In the 20 years of doing this, not one of their employees has had any lung problems.

Black lung disease (coal miners) and white lung disease (ship yard workers, from asbestos particles) don't become problems until decades after exposure. It is possible that someone who worked a few months in a toner cartridge refilling operation 20 years ago will start to have problems in the next 5 to 30 years. It is a hard thing to tell a lung crippled 70 year old that he would still be able to ski and climb mountains if only he hadn't taken that summer job in the shipyards when he was teen.

I am not claiming that toner cartridge recycling is a hazardous business: I don't know. I do know that toner dust is known to be unhealthy.

Re:Toner Remanufacturers (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#20115713)

In the 20 years of doing this, not one of their employees has had any lung problems.

Or if they have, they've died so quickly that nobody had a chance to think "hang on, they've spent years working in a plant full of printer toner..."

I work at a toner company (4, Interesting)

Pigeon451 (958201) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113413)

Toner particles are made of a plastic-like material that is non-toxic and are generally 10-25 um in diameter. They put additives such as SiO2 onto the surface, these are nano-scale sized particles which are generally well attached to the toner.

Claims this dust is as bad as cigarette smoking is a ridiculous statement, as toner particles are non toxic (tests have been done). Buildup in the lungs is a major issue however, as ultra-fine particles are not expelled from the lungs once inside -- this is a worry.

I work for a large toner company, and we do tests on machines in enclosed areas with experimental toners. Areas we work in are monitored for dust particles, and we are well below safe limits. If our areas are safe, then an office environment certainly should be.

Note the vast majority of problem machines are by HP -- particle emissions is not a problem in the industry, it just seems to be a problem with HP printers. HP is a manufacturer of "affordable" printers, perhaps they are not as well put together as more expensive machines. The media took a small issue and blew it out of proportion, much as it does with everything.

Re:I work at a toner company (1)

Mr.Fork (633378) | more than 7 years ago | (#20117757)

Pigeon, you state (and I quote) "I work for a large toner company, and we do tests on machines in enclosed areas with experimental toners. Areas we work in are monitored for dust particles, and we are well below safe limits. If our areas are safe, then an office environment certainly should be."

That is an accurate statement, but a few questions. Who's safe limits are you referring to? The ones set by your office's WH&SC policy committee? Federal limits? Own offices policy? Do you vent to the outside? Are you using 100% recycled air? A separate air conditioned room? What if the room you work in had no air conditioning (like most industrial offices) and you had a dozen or so of these workplace printers that are perhaps 3-4 years old, well used, and worn?

Since the study admitted there are no regulations on UFP's of this type, how can you say what exactly the safety limits are?

In my opinion, your offering advice on a topic like most car magazines do on domestic cars "They're great! Reliable. Safe." Give them a few years, and you'll get a different tone.

I'm a new Health and Safety office inspection officer for my company. I have to be honest, when I saw this, it made me go "hmmmm", not run out and say "the sky is falling." I'm more concerned over mould than printers, but as part of my job I am curious.

Another fact, the article is to make us curious. You're speaking in absolutes - are you sure you're not working for the Sith or some dark lord? :)

Re:I work at a toner company (1)

Pigeon451 (958201) | more than 7 years ago | (#20146555)

Heh, great questions. My response is a bit late ... Safe limits of dust particles are set by our government, and are measured by external unbiased companies. At a certain size and below, particles are not expelled from the lungs once ingested (I forget the size). We test for both these small particles, and larger ones. We also test our environment regularly for mould, which is something I am more concerned about, as you are.

You are correct in stating that older machines that need maintenance, and are used in more extreme environments than we are used to could be more prone to small particulate emissions. New machines could also be susceptible.

My point was, that not ALL machines are bad in this case, unfortunately the media hype starts hysteria -- in this case, you took a study and it made you think -- but the average worker will go WOW. in THIS study, there seems to be one company responsible for the vast majority of defects, HP. Is it a single machine brand? Type? Model? I haven't read the article, I don't know for sure. But it certainly made our company go "hmmm" as well.

If workers are worried about their environment, they can ask management to splurge for an external contractor to come and measure the air around their printers. It's not terribly expensive, and a device capable of measuring small particulates is about $2000 or so. A worthy investment for any industrial company.

Gotta Love Capitalism + Science! (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113427)

And here's me thinking their study was going to show the printers weren't safe.

Methodology... (1)

GregNorc (801858) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113507)

I sort of agree with HP actually. The whole point of a scientific paper is that you publish your methodology, so others can verify your results or point out possible errors. This is a pretty big claim to make, and I think HP has legitimate gripe. However I think they might just be buying themselves time. I think we learned from cigarettes that small particles going into the lungs is never a good idea, the only question is: Does a normal office setup have enough printers to present a health risk?

Re:Methodology... (2, Insightful)

cyberwench (10225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113655)

I'd lean towards buying time. They don't have a lot of info to go on here, so they're trying to sound cautious but reassuring until they can get a better grip on it.

Honestly, given how little actual toner escapes in the printers, I'd personally be more concerned about paper dust in a high-volume printing area.

Selenium Emissions (4, Informative)

dprice (74762) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113509)

A long time ago, I was reading a nutrition book, and it mentioned that a person could get a one's daily requirement for selenium from breathing the air near a photocopier or laser printer. One man's poison is another man's micronutrient.

Re:Selenium Emissions (1)

rand(coward) (1134517) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113899)

A long time ago, doctors thought leeches would cure all sorts of diseases. Further research should also be examined; people are wrong often (if not more) than not.

WHAT'S YOUR favorite POINT source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20113735)

OH GOD... nano-particles... everywhere! Must... reach safety of...

A) The great urban outdoors
B) My particulate laden residential environs
C) One of the polar regions, where the climate will be tolerable 100 years from now...

    (Quick, before the real estate values there go through the ozone layer!)

Re:WHAT'S YOUR favorite POINT source? (1)

tylernt (581794) | more than 7 years ago | (#20114495)

OH GOD... nano-particles... everywhere! Must... reach safety of...
A) The great urban outdoors
B) My particulate laden residential environs
C) One of the polar regions, where the climate will be tolerable 100 years from now...
        (Quick, before the real estate values there go through the ozone layer!)
Why do you think Russia is claiming the arctic for themselves?

That's it... I'm going back into the coal mines. (1)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 7 years ago | (#20113847)

If you think I'm going to risk my life just to make money by shuffling papers around, you're crazy! I will not risk the dangers of 'tonerlung' and 'tonerloc', I'll take my chances with blacklung, thank you very much.

Sure HP (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 7 years ago | (#20114071)

printers are safe from testing, due to the fact that their replaceable material probably is so expensive that the researchers couldnt afford it to test. Either that or they have been sued upfront into the ground by infringing on a patent for testing a device which is able to put something on paper. The printers probably were cheap though ;-)

Very, very bad news (4, Funny)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#20114137)

OK, HP admits they don't know any more about this than any other supposed experts.


The sad (but true) facts are:

  • If you work near a laser printer, you are going to die.
  • Work in a big city (lots of particulate pollution), you are going to die.
  • Work in a coal mine? You are going to die.
  • Work? You are going to die.
  • Face it, you are going to die. There is no escape.

Sad, yes. But inescapably true.

Re:Very, very bad news (1)

springbox (853816) | more than 7 years ago | (#20115509)

I would think most people are already aware of this, but it's really just a question of what will accelerate the process.

Re:Very, very bad news (1)

jasonwea (598696) | more than 7 years ago | (#20117817)

Hah. Reminds me of William Shatner's "You'll Have Time".

Not Really Worried (1)

Albert71292 (877316) | more than 7 years ago | (#20114167)

Not really worried about this anyway. I own an HP printer, but only print something once in a blue moon (because of the rediculous price of cartridges). Would be happy if HP would make Vista drivers for my old reliable HP ScanJet 4100C scanner though...

Anybody else been working too much? (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 7 years ago | (#20114189)

I read this and saw "Our Pointers Are Safe"
I think I need to get out today, read a book or something...

"Recognized occupational exposure limits" (0, Troll)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 7 years ago | (#20114485)

It's a bit like when they have a radiation leak and they say it was all within "safe limits". What they mean is, you'll never be able to prove in court your cancer was caused by their screw-up.

This study brought to you (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 7 years ago | (#20114725)

by your friends in the Inkjet Industry.

Re:This study brought to you (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 7 years ago | (#20116763)

ah, I couldn't read that part because the letters were wiped all blurry there because someone moved his finger of that part of the text. (Disclaimer: as someone who prints very infrequently, I recently bought an inkjet, and on the same day found out why I had decided years ago that my next printer would be a laser printer. The clearly distinguishable unhealthy smell of these things and the price tag for a color all-in-one held me from it, though.)

If HP were rated low-emitters, they'd love it.. (1)

sciarbus (936848) | more than 7 years ago | (#20115793)

Of course HP - who had the most printers emitting the most crap in the study - can be expected to get defensive and spread FUD.

But you can be sure that if the report listed HP printers as low emitters, HP would have put out a press release praising the study and it probably would have also put a sticker on each new printer saying 'Low particle emissions'.

Oh, and BTW: people should read the original researchers paper in full, and not just accept the HP PR 'contoversy hose-down' attempt at face value. The original study is a detailed scientific paper with full details of its methodology, and with numerous citiations of relevant authorities and similar recent European, Japanese and US studies.

Re:If HP were rated low-emitters, they'd love it.. (1)

Swordlol (1138125) | more than 7 years ago | (#20117693)

If the government harnassed the awesome potential printers have to spread mass death. We're all be doomed.

They May Be "Safe" But They Still Track (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 7 years ago | (#20115875)

HP's LaserJet printers encode the printer serial number and registration information (at a minimum) in a pattern of little yellow dots so that every sheet of paper can be tracked back to the printer that printed it. They aren't unique in this, however. Many other printer companies do the exact same thing.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,118664-page,1/ar ticle.html [pcworld.com]

"Recognised exposure limits" versus research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20117259)

The operational lie is "recognized occupational exposure limits". The work of the researchers may well lower those limits in future years.

SAFE is relative (1)

partowel (469956) | more than 7 years ago | (#20118095)

Smoking is safe....for some people. They will never get cancer.

DDT is safe....for some species. But not all species.

HIV/AIDS is safe...for about 8 people in the whole world. Everyone else is fubared up the a$$.

Your country is safe from BUSH....as long as you don't have oil.

Sugar is safe....unless your diabetic or some other medical condition.

Oxygen is safe....unless your a plant and have to get rid of this by-product.

Water is safe....unless your lungs are full of it and you can't breathe.

HP is safe....as long as they pay off the gov't and pay lobby people to convince the gov't that it is safe.

zzzzzz....i'm bored.

Safe printers? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#20118177)

We used to have an HP printer burn out and start smoking at least twice a month out on the production floor where I worked. Fire hazards are worse than pollution, IMHO. So no, HP printers are not safe from what I've seen.
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