• Printer toner is a dry, usually black powder used in copy machines and laser printers, and it comes in a cartridge that can be inserted into the printer. Although printer toner helps create the words and images on paper, it carries with it several health risks.

    Respiratory Risks

    Printer toner is a fine powder, so its particles can remain in the air for a long time. One recent study by the Queensland University of Technology found that printers in one office building emitted particles associated with respiratory diseases. Some printers and photocopiers produce small amounts of ozone, a toxic gas, as a by-product of the printing process. Exposure to this gas can irritate the throat, eyes and nose. Studies have found that the problem is worse when new cartridges are used.

    Carcinogenic Effects

    Many toner cartridges contain Carbon Black, a known class B2 carcinogen. As long as the toner remains fused to the paper, it will most likely not be dangerous. However, because laser printers and photocopiers emit particles into the air when being used, more studies need to be done to determine if the particles carry dangerous carcinogens.


    Toner must be washed off the skin and clothes with cold water. Washing toner with warm water can cause it to remain longer on skin and clothes.

    Leading Brands

    Some top manufacturers of printer toner are Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Samsung and Xerox.


    Make sure office and home printers are located in well-ventilated areas so that any emitted particles disperse immediately. If you work often with toner cartridges, consider wearing a face mask to protect yourself from toner particles.


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