Most users of laser toner printers and photocopiers are unaware of the dangers mishandling toner can have to their health. The toner powder used inside each cartridge contains compounds that can be potentially harmful to humans when not handled correctly. The key to properly handling toner is being aware of the risks and how to prevent them from occurring.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified toner powder as a type 2B carcinogen with the primary ingredient in most laser toner cartridges being Carbon Black. Carbon dust, which toner is mainly composed of, is known to emit carcinogens which can be dangerous to humans and result in a form a cancer when inhaled. Normal operation of photocopiers and laser printers will not expose users to these possible risks; however a broken cartridge that explodes toner powder in the office can be a different story.
To avoid overexposure to toner by inhaling or touching the chemical, gloves and a paper breathing mask should be worn to clean the mess. If any of the toner compounds get onto your skin, you should wash the toner off under cold water. Hot water or even warm water can melt the powder into your skin which can ultimately attack or transform bacteria resulting in some undesirable side effects such as irritation and itchiness. Inhaling the carbon-dominate dust may cause headaches, eye irritation, chronic itchiness, and even small growths on the tongue.
When laser toner cartridges inside of some photocopy machines overheat, the toner can conceivably become even more dangerous. First of all, the cartridge itself can severely burn the skin when handling the toner ink cartridge immediately after printing. So do not attempt to replace toner cartridges that have recently been used to print with. Give the cartridges a few minutes to cool off inside the machine before changing the toner.
Secondly, photocopiers that use toner ink may emit carbon monoxide into the atmosphere when overheated. Inhaling a cloud Carbon Monoxide can cause an increased heart rate, severe headaches, and drowsiness. To prevent exposure to overheated toner cartridges emitting carbon dioxide, these machines should be used in well ventilated rooms. Opening windows and doors can also be useful to help dilute the air containing the carbon dioxide pollutants. The most common occurrence of this happening is in offices that are consistently printing throughout the day. So be sure your frequently used laser printers and copies are in a well ventilated room before operating them.
Furthermore, some photocopiers are likely to radiate high levels of ozone during electrical discharges that occur each time toner is ejected from the cartridge. And regular exposure to high levels of ozone can cause some unwanted effects, similar to the effects of overexposure to carbon dioxide, including headaches, irritation, nausea, and even dermatitis in extreme cases. By ensuring your machine is operating in a well ventilated area will prevent this from becoming a potential problem.
Once again, the normal operation will not have harmful effects to users. And to eliminate the potential threats mentioned, be sure to use laser toner printers and photocopiers in areas with good air flow or ventilation, wash toner off with cold water, do not breathe unnaturally close to the machine when operating, and do not attempt to replace or change recently used cartridges. By following these fairly simple guidelines, laser toner printers and photocopiers using toner ink are relatively harmless and are necessary office components in today’s workplace.