While printer toner itself isn't a health hazard, its fine powder in high concentration can be. This powder can stay in the air for quite a while, and is similar to dust when it comes to its effects on our body, resulting in irritations like sneezing and coughing. Add any respiratory conditions like bronchitis or asthma and these effects worsen.
How can this dust become airborne? You'd be surprised at how easy it is. Improper disposal of printer toner in waste baskets can quickly spread dust through the air. Machine spills can cycle through the ventilator fan. Over-filled waste toner compartments can overflow within the machine.
Some laser printer toners are considered carcinogens, or cancer causing, increasing the risk of those individuals facing extremely heavy and long-term exposure. Nevertheless, typical office and personal use is deemed safe.
So take precautions. Vacuum, don't sweep or brush, spilled toner dust. Clean up desktops or surfaces with a damp cloth. Should toner get on your hands, wash them thoroughly and immediately with soap and cold water, which keeps your pores closed and protects your hands from becoming stained. Avoid any contact with your eyes or mouth, and never ingest. To play it extra safe, put the toner in a zipped plastic bag to avoid possible dust emissions.
If you experience shortness of breath or persistent coughing, stop working with the printer toner, if applicable, and get fresh air immediately. Then seek medical attention if your symptoms persist.
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