A study of pollution caused by an unlikely source the office laser printer has found that half of those models studied produce worrying levels of fine particulate pollution. The pollution is as bad as second-hand smoke, the researchers said.
Fine particles like these, when they come out of power plants, diesel engines and other major sources, have been the target of a government crackdown in recent years, since studies indicate they can lodge deep in the lungs, causing respiratory illness and even heart disease.
Indoor air quality is often far worse than air quality outdoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and the emissions from toner cartridges at work is one more source that can foul the air. Because chronic exposure to pollutants is the primary concern, cleaning the air indoors is as important or more than cleaning it outdoors.
HP, the computer maker, disputes the study's conclusions. To read the company's response, click here.
The choice of printer, at this point, seems to be the primary way to limit exposure. Here is a list of printers studied, as listed by the San Francisco Chronicle, and how they rated on emissions relative to one another:
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