Feeds

Fraunhofer boffins: Laser printers safe after all

About as dangerous as making toast, seemingly

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Scientists from Germany's renowned Fraunhofer institutes have concluded that the much-hyped issue of laser printers emitting deadly toxic clouds of toner particles is essentially bunk. Printers do emit small amounts of volatile organic chemicals, but so do toasters.

Various researchers had theorised that laser printers might be emitting clouds of tiny toner (or "toner-like") particles, which would be highly toxic when breathed in. Some have even suggested that having a laser printer in the room with you is as dangerous as smoking cigs - or anyway as dangerous as having a smoker next to you.

As suicidal baccophile nihilists have now been banned from indulging in their sickening vices anywhere near decent folk, it seemed plain that the equally antisocial and murderous devotees of hard copy would also have to be ostracised. Logic would have dictated that those wishing to print out documents should indulge in their perverse, unhealthy habits in some kind of heavily ventilated or outdoor ghetto.

But that's all cobblers, according to the brainboxes of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. Printers don't emit toner at all. They do emit stuff, however - the fixing unit, which heats up to 220 degrees, gives off small particles of "volatile substances such as paraffins and silicon oils", according to the Braunschweig-based boffins who looked into the matter.

But nobody should start panicking that we might be all be printing our way unwittingly towards extinction, in a deferred inadvertent paraffin-snort health timebomb apocalypse style of problem. According to the Fraunhofer statement:

The scientists from Braunschweig observed similar phenomena – the formation of ultra-fine particles of volatile organic substances when heated – during typical household activities such as cooking, baking, or making toast.

So roughly speaking, working around laser printers is about as dangerous as making toast or visiting a bakery.

The Fraunhofer boffins also hinted strongly that the various kinds of filter now being sold as a safeguard against the presumed printer particulate poison problem aren't really worth buying, even if you're worried about the volatiles emissions.

"Our investigations show that the various external filters on offer for printers operate in very different ways," says Dr Michael Wensing.

"As the ultra-fine particles are not emitted from a specific part of the printer, but also from the paper output, for instance, a filter can only have a limited effect." ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
Symantec backs out of Backup Exec: Plans to can appliance in Jan
Will still provide support to existing customers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.