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Printer IT Science

Office Printers May Pose Health Risks 227

Posted by Zonk
from the like-the-one-to-my-immediate-right dept.
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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Office Printers May Pose Health Risks

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  • Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yppupcinataS.> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @09:38AM (#20056533) Journal
    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.
  • by HitekHobo (1132869) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @09:49AM (#20056701) Homepage
    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!
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @09:54AM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @10:13AM (#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.

  • by Corporate Troll (537873) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @10:29AM (#20057235) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by N Monkey (313423) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @10:35AM (#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.

  • by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @10:47AM (#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).
  • by Marty_Krapturd (817250) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @10:50AM (#20057479) Homepage

    *** 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @11:09AM (#20057769)

    Car exhaust smells like fucking shit.

    Not anymore it doesn't. We made drivers pay for expensive emissions control systems to clean up the stink.

    bean eaters learn what should have been common courtesy.

    Most people who fart do have the common courtesy to leave, or at least apologize if it was involuntary. Some hide their transgressions in anonymity, but smokers can't really get away with that.

    defecators learn what should have been common courtesy.

    That's why we have dedicated bathrooms, usually with exhaust fans. Smokers generally couldn't be bothered to even do that.

  • FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by boyfaceddog (788041) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @11:49AM (#20058397) Journal
    I love this part;
    "ultra-tiny particles of toner-like material"

    I don't know which is more obnoxious - the non-measurement-measument (ultra-tiny is not a size) or the mis-statement of hazards. The material is either toner or it isn't. If the material is toner, say it is toner. If the material isn't toner, tell me waht it is. There is no "toner like material" in a toner-based printer other than the toner itself.
  • by Falesh (1000255) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:24PM (#20059895) Homepage
    This is a small piece in the asia-pacific section of the site reporting the results of some research by a team of Australian scientists. That is hardly what I would call a scare story.

    Just because one scare story got through does not mean the reputation of the whole BBC is ruined, it just means that sometimes shit happens.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:59PM (#20060453) Journal

    So basically your argument boils down to the teenager's "Well everybody else is doing it, so why can't I?"

    No - but I do find it funny that no matter what story about air quality comes out, it invariably gets compared to the same thing - smoking.

    In spite of this, we have industry belching out (in spite of progress) far more particulates and pollutants, and the average daily freeway load of cars pouring out far more in the way of toxic gases.

    ...and yet it's some anonymous schmuck who lights up a cigarette that gets held up in effigy.

    It's a proportional argument, IMHO.

    /P

  • FUD, indeed. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @06:35PM (#20064093) Journal
    Some printers and copiers use a consumable developer, as well as toner. It can be packaged seperately [amazon.com], or togetherly [amazon.com] along with the toner in a disposable cartridge, as was the case with the fleet of Sharp printers we used to use at work.

    I'd like to further submit that such developer product quite plainly consists of "ultra-tiny particles of toner-like material."

    FWIW, HTH, HAND, etc.

What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying. -- Nikita Khruschev

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