The release of ultrafine particles from office equipment is currently receiving great concerns due to its potential threat to human health when inhaled. Printer toner is one of the largest consumables in daily office work, and the particles released from printers and photocopiers may pose damage to respiratory system. In this study, we found the particles can be released into the surrounding environment during the printing process and the concentrations of PM(2.5) and PM(10) particles increased obviously. To evaluate the time-course pulmonary responses caused by toner particles, the toner suspension was instilled into the lungs of the male mice through intratracheally instillation every other day for four times and the pulmonary responses of the lung were monitored at days 9, 28, 56 and 84. Indeed, mice treated with toner particles displayed a slower body weight growth rate during the recovery phase. The total cell number in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids (BALF) of toner-exposed groups was much higher than the saline-treated groups. The total protein, lactate dehydrogenase and acid phosphatase in BALF exhibited significant changes (p<0.05 or p<0.01) at different time points. The nitric oxide synthase, interleukin 1-beta, and interleukin 6 in the lung tissue of the toner-exposed groups also exhibited significant changes (p<0.05 or p<0.01). The pathological examination showed that toner particles can adhere to the alveolar septal walls, then enter into the alveoli and cause pulmonary lesion. During the experimental period, particles phagocytosed by alveolar macrophages (AMs) led to an increase of both AMs number and apoptosis. The pulmonary stress still remained over time even with a clearance period for 12 weeks. These results indicate that exposure to toner particles can inhibit the normal growth of the mice and induce significant inflammatory responses and lesion in the lung tissues. The health and safety effects from working indoors in offices with fumes and particles released from photocopiers and printers need to be paid more attention.
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