7 Ways Printers Can Affect Your Health

Your laser printer might be responsible for damaging your lungs and increasing the risk of respiratory problems. You are exposed to danger from shock, burns, and abrasions. To minimize the health risks associated with your laser printer, you need to take some basic precautions. Take a few moments to study and understand the health risks of using your laser printer.

1. Particles: An Australian study of 62 printers revealed that over a quarter of them were “high particle emitters[1].” Basically, they emit a fine dust which can be inhaled through your nasal passages and lodge in the lungs. Foreign particles within the lungs can cause respiratory problems, asthma, and some cancers. In some cases, these particles have been equated with second-hand smoke.

2. Ozone: The laser printing process produces a tiny amount of ionized nitrogen and oxygen, creating ozone and nitrogen oxides. For the larger printers, there is a filter which captures these oxides and breaks them down into safer parts. The smaller printers do not contain such measures. The health risks involved with ozone include headaches and nausea, dermatitis, lung irritation and potential premature aging.

3. Burns: Fuser roller temperatures can reach up to 400 degrees. This causes burning and irritation to unprotected skin. Most manufacturers request that you turn off the printer and allow it to cool before clearing jams within the fuser roller area. If you must place your hands near these parts, make sure that you are wearing gloves to protect yourself.

4. Cuts and abrasions: Cuts and abrasions are caused by rough surfaces within printers. An edge or a gear can cut fingers. When opening the printer to change toner cartridges or clear jams, be wary of these areas. Many wide-format printers contain cutters to trim paper to the requested size. There is also the danger of receiving paper cuts when clearing jams.

5. Toner: Through the process of copying, toner cartridges develop a fine mist of toner along the entirety of the cartridge. When you remove the cartridges, you need to be wary of that collected dust when you are placing it into its recycling bag. Color cartridges will sometimes have a piece of tape covering the hole where the toner is dispensed. This piece of tape must be carefully removed to prevent spillage.

6. Shock: All electrical devices have a shock danger. Laser printers use a series of electric charges to place images onto paper. When a laser printer malfunctions, this increases the danger of electrocution. Make sure that your printer receives regular maintenance by a trained service professional. Examine the cord for exposed wiring.

7. Exposure to gases: Some copiers use drums which are coated with selenium or cadmium sulfide. High levels of selenium can cause skin rashes, nausea and vomiting. In poorly ventilated areas, printers will produce carbon monoxide. The effects of carbon monoxide include faintness, drowsiness, and headaches.

Be wary of the dangers which you find around laser printers. They can prove irritating to your respiratory system. They can cause aggravation to asthma and other breathing disorders. You can burn yourself, cut yourself, or shock yourself with that laser printer. When you have to do anything within the printer, like changing the toner or clearing a jam, shut off the power. This prevents a majority of the health risks from coming to fruition.

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James Adams is a writer and analyst who works at Cartridge Save, a top online ink supplies store based in the UK.


  1. Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Sep 1;41(17):6039-45.

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