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Can Printer Toner Make You Sick?

Copiers and laser jet printers are commonplace in almost every office today. Ink toners used in copiers and laser printers have very low toxicity and should not cause any alarm in the office environment, even in the case of broken toner cartridges.

Environmental Protection Agency Testing

The EPA conducted extensive tests on toner cartridges from January 1987 through December 1988. These tests demonstrated that the potential for skin irritation was very low. Eye irritation was possible but there were no cases of permanent eye damage. The most serious hazard noted was with respiratory exposure.

Laboratory rats were exposed to ink toner dust at levels approximately 10, 30 and 50 times the levels experienced in the manufacturing process. Rats did not experience any ill effects in the first two groups. Rats exposed to 50 times the exposure of the factory experienced some increase in lung density. As a result, even in the manufacturing environment, the EPA has classified ink toners as “nuisance dust.” There is no expectation of a risk in the office environment. The EPA does not classify ink toners as carcinogens or mutagens.

Is the Toner Printer Harmful to the Eyes or the Skin?

Just because something isn’t toxic doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful in other ways. In addition to breathing in toner particles, getting these particles in your eyes could be a major concern. Is the printer toner harmful enough to cause serious eye or skin damage?

When in doubt, always consult the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for your printer cartridge brand. In this document, you will find the potential risks of a printer toner and how to deal with spills or accidental contact.

In some cases, the printer toner may cause skin or eye irritation. It’s only temporary, and usually very mild. MSDS is likely to recommend rinsing of exposed skin in the event of a spill. You may want to use an eyewash station or kit for eye contact with a printer toner.

Can Printer Toner Cause Cancer?

Beyond immediate concerns about skin irritation or toxicity, some people may be concerned about the potential for printer toners to cause long-term problems such as cancer. Could inhaling printer toner have similar effects on smoking and put people at risk of serious conditions such as lung cancer?

Fortunately, the printer toner is not listed as a known or probable carcinogen. Carcinogens are substances that can cause DNA changes in a cell. These damaged cells may replicate unexpectedly and become out of control. That’s exactly what defines cancer.

Toner exposure is not a significant cancer concern for people working in the office environment. The acute effects of toner contact are mild and the risk of long-term chronic diseases such as cancer is negligible.

First Aid for Exposure Event

The toner of ink is not toxic. However, if sufficient quantities are contacted directly by sensitive organs, any exposure to dust may have adverse effects. Eyes should be flushed with clean water if the ink toner is directly in contact with the eyes. Other contact with the skin should be cleaned with soap and water. If the ink toner is aerosolized, clear the room until the dust settles. Vacuum with HEPA filtered vacuum.

By Geraoma - Own work, Public Domain,

Are You Looking for Toner, Ink & Supply Store Near Concord, California?

Office Machine Specialists has been servicing, selling office equipment as well as toner, ink and supplies since 1995. A family run business that has dedicated our efforts to providing the best equipment options and after-sales service to our clients. Our goal is to ask the right questions and guide our customers to make smart decisions about new machine leases and purchases.  We were servicing copiers long before the internet was a viable resource, and have transitioned to the digital workflow environment of color printing, scanning, account control and fleet management. With over 20 years in the industry we have extensive experience with many brands and consider OMS to be a valuable resource to any organization. Contact us for all of your copier needs here!