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What Happens If You Breathe In Toner?

Changing printer toner cartridges in the office is a fairly routine maintenance task that goes hand-in – hand with a laser printer or multifunction device. However, many people often wonder whether the contents of these cartridges could be harmful to their health.

Typically, most people don’t wonder, “is a toner toxic printer” until an accidental spill occurs. The fine dust from the toner cartridge can quickly stain clothes, carpets, and skin. Unwanted stains are undoubtedly annoying, but still a long way from legitimate health concerns.

So, does the laser printer toner pose a health risk? 

If you’ve ever changed a broken toner cartridge or dropped one on the floor, you’ve probably seen fine toner particles kick into the air. Printer toner behaves like fine dust, and it doesn’t take much force to cause toner particles to become airborne. If you breathe in these fine particles, is the printer toner bad for your health?

Studies have been conducted on rats to determine the effects of printer toner inhalation. The most prominent study found that rats exposed to low doses of printer toner had almost no adverse effects. Some form of lung irritation occurred in rats exposed to more copious amounts of toner. However, the level of exposure used in the study was much higher than anyone could reasonably have expected to come into contact within the office setting.

Other than lung irritation, there were no other adverse health effects on rats in the study. This suggests that the printer toner is not toxic and that there is a minimal risk to your health when you breathe in small amounts of toner. The level of toxicity risk presented by regular office use is almost zero.

Carbon Black Dangers

Carbon black — which the International Agency for Cancer Research has classified as a 2B carcinogen or “dust that is potentially carcinogenic to humans”—is found in toner ink. While you are not exposed to it during normal use, if a toner cartridge breaks, you may inhale it or cause it to touch your skin. To avoid accidentally inhaling or touching this chemical, wear a paper breathing mask and protective gloves whenever you change the toner ink in any of your office photocopiers or remove old toner ink cartridges. Carbon black inhalation can cause headaches, irritation of the eyes, chronic itching and small growth of the tongue.By extension, direct contact with the skin is likely to cause severe itchiness and irritation.

Carbon Monoxide Dangers

Photocopiers using toner ink may emit carbon monoxide when overheating in poorly ventilated areas, according to the London Hazards Center. Exposure to carbon monoxide may cause a dramatic increase in pulse rate, severe headache and somnolence. To combat this problem, keep your office photocopiers in well-ventilated areas and, if possible, open any nearby windows when the devices are in use. This is particularly important if your photocopiers are used continuously throughout the working day, as the devices are more likely to overheat with frequent use.

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!