HP dismisses laser printer health risks
No link between emissions and risk to users, says printer maker
Computerworld - Hewlett-Packard Co. today disputed research published earlier this week that said some of its laser printers may be a health risk to office and home computer users. While it did not directly contest the data gathered by Australian researchers, the U.S.-based printer and computer manufacturer flatly rejected the idea that emissions pose a danger.
"We do not believe there is a link between printer emissions and any public health risk," the company said in a statement.
On Wednesday, researchers at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, published a paper detailing emission measurements of 58 laser printers inside a typical office. Emissions, believed to be related to the ultrafine powdered toner used in the printers, were tracked and the printers ranked as non-, low, medium or high emitters. HP's models dominated the last category, accounting for 90% of the printers classified as emitting high levels of particulates.
"HP does not see an association between printer use by customers and negative health effects for volatile organic compounds, ozone or dust," the company continued in its statement. "While we recognize ultrafine, fine, and coarse particles are emitted from printing systems, these levels are consistently below recognized occupational exposure limits."
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy facility in Berkeley, Calif., agreed that it's too early to draw a line between printer emissions and health dangers.
"What we don't know is what the findings in the study mean," said Rich Sextro, an environment scientist at Berkeley Lab, in a posting on the laboratory's Web site. "Certainly our expectation is that exposures to lots of ultrafine particles probably isn't a very good thing, but we have no idea at the moment what that translates into in the real world."
The Australian study (download PDF) is among the first to document emissions from laser printers, but the specifics of how printers produce particles and what those particles are made of is mostly unknown -- something HP emphasized. "Testing of ultrafine particles is a very new scientific discipline," the company said. "Currently, the nature and chemical composition of such particles, whether from a laser printer or from a toaster, cannot be accurately characterized."
One thing that everyone agreed on -- even the Australian researchers -- is that more study should be done. Until a definitive link between laser printers, particulates and health risks are made, "fine particles alone are not enough to worry about," said Tom McKone, another Berkeley Lab scientist.
Read more about Hardware in Computerworld's Hardware Topic Center.
- A Reference Architecture for the Internet of Things The aim of this is to provide Architects and Developers of IoT projects with an effective starting point that covers the major requirements...
- How to Reduce Hardware & Infrastructure Costs Through Data In this paper, we take a look at how organizations are revisiting their network and server architecture in a bid to address the...
- Software Build Acceleration, Analytics and Build Clouds Discover how to dramatically speed up software builds by automatically distributing build jobs over scalable resource clouds and multi-core desktops, with potential savings...
- Printer Installer: Eliminating Print Servers Printer Installer is an on-premise web application that enables you to centrally manage and deploy Windows shared or direct iP printers.
- On-demand webinar - 7 Keys to Service Catalog Implementation Success Watch this webinar to learn 7 crucial keys to make your service catalog a success!
- Transform Your IT Service Management Watch this webinar, to learn how EasyVista can increase IT productivity & efficiency and deliver streamlined & integrated IT Service & Asset Mgmt. All Hardware White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!