Certain laser printers release tiny particles of toner-like material into the air that people can inhale deep into lungs, according to the American Chemical Society’s [removed]Environmental Science & Technology[/removed].

Lidia Morawska, PhD, and colleagues classified 17 out of 62 printers in the study as “high particle emitters.” Thirty-seven of the 62 printers, on the other hand, released no particles that diminished air quality. Six released only low levels, and 2 two, medium levels. The study included models from Canon, HP Color Laserjet, Ricoh and Toshiba.

Most of the printer-generated particles detected were ultrafine, Morawska said, explaining that such contaminants are easily inhaled into the smallest passageways of the lungs where they could pose “a significant health threat.”

Adverse health affects of inhalation range from respiratory irritation to cardiovascular problems or cancer, Morawska said. “Even very small concentrations can be related to health hazards,” she said. “Where the concentrations are significantly elevated means there is potentially a considerable hazard.”

Larger particles also could be unhealthy even though they do not reach the deepest parts of the lung. “Because they are larger,” Morawska added, “they contain more mass and can carry more toxins into the body. No matter how you look at it, there could be problems.”