Laser Printers and Air Pollution

While chatting with Ungsunghero, he brought up the news about how laser printers are a health risk due the fact they pollute the air. There was a recent report published in Environmental Science & Technology: Particle Emission Characteristics of Office Printers. This story was covered by both Ars Technica and BBC NEWS.

A group was comparing indoor air quality (offices) vs outdoor air quality of urban areas by comparing the amount of tiny particles in the air that can lodge into your lung and cause damage. They noticed there were fewer particles during non-business hours in the office, however once business resumed, the number of particles rapidly increased up to 5x the amount of outdoor particles. Through a process of elimination, they were able to pinpoint the origin of the particles to the laser printer.

Of course not all laser printers are equal and after a thorough test of 60 laser printers, they’ve broken them down into 4 categories: non-emitter, low level emitter, middle level emitter, high level emitter

They’ve deterimined that the particles that the laser printer shoots out are actually tiny particles of toner or toner related material. The study also found out new toner cartridges tend to emit more particles and the amount of printed on the page also made a difference. Printing an image which covered more area of the paper released more particles into the air.

Anyway, why did I bring this story up? I took the following image when I got my tower fan, but I thought I’d recycle it here.
laser printer next to air filter

My laser printer is situated right next to my air filter, out of pure coincidence. It was probably due to the fact it was the only place where there was a spot big enough for it. I wonder if the HEPA filter is good enough to capture the particles…

My laser printer is generally off since I don’t print that much and even on idle, laser printer pulls in quite a bit of electricity.

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