The recent report of the American Thoracic Society pertinent to the health risks involved in the exposure to mean Ozone concentration – in indoor air, should steer us into action. The study further intimated that indoor air contains over one hundred times more ozone than what is present outdoors. Although no considerable health risk yet is pronounced in the study, a review of our indoor equipment is in order. National Ambient Air Quality Standards allow only up to 75 PPB (parts per billion) exposure to mean ozone concentration over an eight-hour period.
Laser printers produce ozone. Several studies have confirmed the fact that laser printers emit ozone and nitrogen oxides in the process of fusing toner particles to paper. However, ozone is more evident with old, aging laser printers and not typical with modern generation printers.
Large commercial laser printers are outfitted with filters that trap ozone. This device is not available on smaller, compact laser printers. Thus, home and office users of laser printers are more at risk to indoor ozone exposure.
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Of the 63 laser printers evaluated by the Queensland University of Technology, Brother laser printers, particularly the Brother HL 5100 laser printer was not included among the 17 strongest ozone emitters.
What can be done? Certainly with heath risk now more evident than ever, next generation laser printers would be provided with filters to trap ozone. For the moment however, users can apply pertinent precautionary measures as follows:
- Replace aging laser printers with units that satisfy the Permissible Exposure Limit set by the US OSHA.
- Position personal laser printers in a well-ventilated environment and with adequate breathing space for the unit as only free air movement can dissipate ozone concentration.
- If possible isolate the location of your printer so only the user becomes subjected to ozone exposure at any given moment. Moreover, the printer’s exhaust should not be positioned close to the user and likewise facing the user at that.
- Ozone sensitive users should likewise wear dust masks or equivalent protective gear to dampen effects of ozone inhalation.
- When utilizing filters, take note to check its condition from time to time and replace it periodically.
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With safety measures in place, exposure to mean ozone concentration is a far-fetched possibility. Thus, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Succeeding studies on the ozone exposure has yet to confirm particularly on the health risks involved. Laser printer users are advised to stick to manufacturers guidelines in the use of the equipment and related accessories like the OEM cartridge and toner refill kits.