Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Particulate emissions from laser printers

03.12.2008
Do laser printers emit pathogenic toner particles into the air? Some people are convinced that they do. As a result, this topic is the subject of public controversy. Researchers have now investigated what particles the printers really do release into the air.

We regularly hear reports that laser printers release pathogenic toner dust into the ambient air. How much of it can we believe? What kind of particles do the printers really emit, and in what quantities? Researchers at the Fraunhofer Wilhelm Klauditz Institute WKI in Braunschweig are investigating this question in collaboration with colleagues from Queensland University of Technology QUT in Brisbane, Australia.

The results are surprising: Contrary to numerous reports, laser printers release hardly any particles of toner into the air. “But what some printers do emit are ultra-fine particles made of volatile organic-chemical substances,” says WKI head of department Prof. Dr. Tunga Salthammer. “One essential property of these ultra-fine particles is their volatility, which indicates that we are not looking at toner dust.”

So where do these ultra-fine particles come from? And how can their emergence be explained? To discover the answer, the scientists have developed a process that enables them to determine and compare the quantity, size and chemical composition of the emitted particles. Technical and financial support was provided by the printer and copier manufacturers in the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM). Depending on their dimensions, the printers are housed in a test chamber measuring one or 24 cubic meters. Particle analyzers count the particles and measure their size distribution. To discover the source, the researchers also examined modified printers that “print” without any paper or toner. “The amazing thing is that the ultra-fine particles are still produced even in this case. The cause is the fixing unit – a component that heats up as high as 220°C during the printing process in order to fix the toner particles on the paper,” explains WKI scientist Dr. Michael Wensing. The high temperatures cause volatile substances such as paraffins and silicon oils to evaporate, and these accumulate as ulta-fine particles.

The scientists from Braunschweig observed similar phenomena – the formation of ultra-fine particles of volatile organic substances when heated – during typical household activities such as cooking, baking, or making toast. Filters are available on the market to reduce these printer emissions. But are they any use? “Our investigations show that the various external filters on offer for printers operate in very different ways. As the ultra-fine particles are not emitted from a specific part of the printer, but also from the paper output, for instance, a filter can only have a limited effect.”

Prof. Dr. Tunga Salthammer | alfa
Further information:
http://www.wki.fraunhofer.de
http://www.fraunhofer.de/EN/press/pi/2008/12/ResearchNews122008Topic3.jsp
http://www.fraunhofer.de/EN/bigimg/2008/rn12fo3g.jsp

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Serious children’s infections also spreading in Switzerland
26.07.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy
25.07.2017 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>