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Professor fumes over quality of laser printers

Wednesday, 15 August 2007
By Print 21 Online Article
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Physics professor Lidia Morawska from Queensland University of Technology conducted a recent study which found that some laser printers emit clouds of ultra-fine particles that have been compared to cigarette smoke and motor vehicle emissions.

Morawska and her team of researchers tested 40 models of laser printers and found that 13 of the models were high emitters of particles from toner. "They are so small you can’t see them," she said.

HP’s laser printers were named as emitters of such particles, but the company claims that its products belong in offices just as much as the fax or espresso machine, and workers should not be alarmed. In a statement the company said:

"HP stands behind the safety of its products. Testing of ultra fine particles is a very new scientific discipline. There are no indications that ultra fine particle (UFP) emissions from laser printing systems are associated with special health risks.

"Based on our own testing, HP knows that many variables can affect the outcome of tests for ultra fine 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 work in this area – we do not believe there is a link between printer emissions and any public health risk."

Fuji Xerox, whose printers were not included in the study, are safe for use and exempt from Moraska’s claims, according to Andy Lambert, managing director of Fuji Xerox.

"Many years of study by the Fuji Xerox/Xerox Group has shown no evidence that Fuji Xerox products pose any emissions risks," he said. "We remain confident that our products meet the highest standards for the control of emissions and comply with all relevant regulations."

These findings will be the basis for ongoing study into the area. In her report, Moraska wrote that: "While a more comprehensive study is still required … the results from this study imply that submicrometer particle concentration levels in an office can be reduced by a proper choice of the printers."

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