Are toner and office equipment harmful to human health?

A laser printer, MFP and other equipment has become a must-have equipment for any office employee. But, working with them, each person should be aware that consumables have a negative impact on health. Scientists at the Queensland University of Technology, Australia, have conducted a study that suggests that the harm of toner used in printers is serious.

This means that working with any office equipment requires compliance with certain safety measures.

The content of the article

Research essence

A study by Australian scientists was originally conducted to test the operation of office ventilation. Experts were looking for a tool that could increase the level of protection of employees from the external environment.

During the study of ventilation, scientists found that, despite the presence of effective filters that do not allow dust from the street, the premises are still heavily polluted. Moreover, it was later found that during working hours the volume of harmful particles in the air increases 5 times.

Australian scientists have suggested that copying technology is to blame. As a result, experts came to the conclusion that more than 25% of all devices installed in the investigated room emit fine toner particles into the air. In addition, scientists have found that the level of harmful substances increases after replacing the cartridge or when printing complex images when using a lot of ink.

At the same time, the study showed that most of the modern devices do not cause any harm to human health. An important result was that the level of contamination does not depend on the brand of the copier.

Danger of office equipment

The negative impact of consumables of modern printers manifests itself in the form of:

  • uncontrolled release of ozone into the environment;
  • uncontrolled release of small particles of toner;
  • high noise and vibration generated during the operation of printing mechanisms.

According to a study by Australian scientists, a monochrome printer is the most harmful to human health. This is due to the fact that in the manufacture of paint for it, manufacturers add iron oxides and carbon. Both elements are designed to improve the print quality of images. In addition, such toners contain small amounts of heavy metal compounds such as cadmium and lead. The danger of the presence of the latter elements lies in the fact that when the equipment overheats, these substances are destroyed, due to which harmful components penetrate into the air.

Also, coloring elements that get on the surface of the skin often cause an allergic reaction, which manifests itself in the form of irritation, redness and itching. It is important to note that no pronounced allergic components have yet been found in the toner.

It has been established that with prolonged contact with office equipment, people may experience the following symptoms indicating the onset of diseases:

  • chronic cough;
  • cracking of the skin at the points of contact with the particles of the dye;
  • foci of inflammation on the mucous membranes;
  • asthma.

Fine particles

The presence of small particles in the air near printing equipment is probably the most serious hazard faced by a person when working with printers and other similar equipment.

Modern devices used to apply various images to paper necessarily include a special dye, or toner. The latter consists of the smallest particles, the diameter of which often reaches 3-4 microns. The minimization of dimensions is due to the fact that such a solution provides better quality printing of images and texts.color toner

In an effort to reduce individual elements of the dye, manufacturers of printer cartridges have faced unpleasant consequences: microscopic particles penetrate into the atmosphere through the technical gaps that any technique has. And by this time, a filter has not yet been created that can capture individual elements of the toner. And the human body can sufficiently resist the negative impact that these microparticles have.

In other words, the signs of poisoning described above occur only with prolonged contact with office equipment. Microparticles gradually accumulate in the lungs and mucous membranes, resulting in various respiratory diseases.

When these symptoms appear, you need to undergo an examination of the body to identify the causes that caused cough, asthma, and the like. Timely treatment will prevent the destruction of the respiratory system. It has also been proven that small particles of paint, penetrating into the lungs, create favorable conditions for the development of cancer cells.

It is important to remember one more feature that office equipment has: during its operation, air currents emerge from the technical openings, raising dust into the air. Therefore, in order to reduce the harmfulness of printers, it is necessary to regularly ventilate the room.


Ozone, which negatively affects human health only at high concentrations, is another substance that is released during the operation of office devices. Its accumulation in copying equipment is due to the fact that high voltage is used when applying toner.ozone o3

However, ozone is mainly emitted only by old devices. The so-called corotrons-rollers are used in the design of modern devices. Toner is applied to them under the influence of high voltage, due to which the amount of ozone emitted by the technology borders on the natural content of the substance in the atmosphere.

Equipment used for high-performance printing of materials carries a high risk. But in this case, the negative impact is minimized through the use of ozone filters, which convert the generated ozone into oxygen and carbon dioxide. The operation of such devices requires users to regularly replace the filter element.

Summing up a preliminary summary, two main conclusions can be drawn:

  1. The danger of ozone applied to copying equipment is exaggerated. Office machines release small amounts of the substance.
  2. Only high-performance equipment produces ozone in quantities sufficient to harm humans.


All of the above testifies in favor of the fact that today an office worker has practically nothing to fear when working with copiers. However, for prevention purposes, it is recommended to follow some precautions:

  1. The equipment must be installed at a considerable distance from the workplace. If this is not possible, it is recommended to enclose the equipment.
  2. Increase the frequency of room ventilation.

We recommend that you follow these tips when replacing the cartridge:

  1. Use only high quality powder. Inexpensive toners can contain more heavy metal compounds.
  2. The manufacturer needs to replace the cartridge at a distance from the workplace. It is better to allocate a special area for this. It must be remembered that all spilled powder remains indoors.

For operators working with high performance copiers, other recommendations are provided:

  1. Use personal protective equipment such as respirators.
  2. Equipment should be repaired in draft-free rooms.
  3. Use only special vacuum cleaners to clean the inside of the copier.
  4. Dispose of cartridges separately from other waste.

As you can see, there is nothing wrong with working with office equipment. Most importantly, observe the above precautions. And if possible, do not refuel the cartridges yourself or use personal protective equipment.


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