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HP v Aussie Scientists

Posted by gnn1 on Monday, 6 August 2007

A report by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) showed that many office laser printers emit ultra-fine particles, in some cases as many as a cigarette. The particles, when inhaled, can cause

‘respiratory irritation, cardiovascular problems, and even cancer.’

Hewlett Packard had the most printers come up as high-emission.

HP refutes the claims, saying

‘that testing of ultra-fine particles was still “a very new scientific discipline” and that there were “no indications that ultra-fine particle emissions from laser printing systems are associated with special health risks”.’

The researcher leader, Professor Lidia Morawska, rebutted

saying the European Commission had already added a particle number limit to its Euro 5/6 emissions standards for light-duty vehicles.

“It is normally a lengthy process for introducing new scientific findings into the regulatory framework,” Morawska said.

“The fact that this process has already occurred in relation to vehicles emission is an indication that testing of ultra-fine particles is not ‘a very new scientific discipline’.”

Morawska backed up her health risk claims by pointing to the latest update of the World Health Organisation Air Quality Guidelines, which said “there is considerable toxicological evidence of potential detrimental effects of ultra-fine particles on human health”.

The only area of agreement between HP and the researchers is that more testing is required.

For the record, most printers tested were quite safe:

Of the 62 printers Morawska tested in an office building and a particle-free chamber, 37 were found to be non-emitters, six were low, two were medium and 17 were high.

An interesting note is that HP made every list, that is non-emitter, low emitter, middle emitter, and high emitter. But HP also makes a LOT of printers and the majority of printers tested appear to be HP.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

The full report (7 page PDF format– Adobe Acrobat Reader required)

HP’s response (NOT a PDF)


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