Background: We assessed indoor air quality in photocopier centers and investigated whether occupational exposure to emissions from photocopiers is associated with decline in lung function or changes in haematological parameters, oxidative stress and inflammatory status.
Methods: Indoor air quality was monitored in five photocopier centers. Pulmonary function was assessed by spirometry in 81 photocopier operators (64 male and 17 female) and 43 healthy control (31 male and 12 female) subjects. Hematological status, serum thio-barbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), total ferric reducing antioxidant capacity (FRAC), leukotriene B4 (LTB4), 8-isoprostane, C reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 8 (IL-8), clara cell protein (CC-16), intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) and eosinophilic cationic protein (ECP) were analyzed. Relationships between cumulative exposure, lung function and inflammatory markers were assessed.
Results: PM10 and PM2.5 were above the permissible levels in all the photocopier centers, whereas the levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, sulphur dioxide, lead, arsenic, nickel, ammonia, benzene and benzo(a)pyrene were within Indian ambient air quality standards. Lung function was similar in the photocopier operators and control subjects. Serum TBARS was significantly higher and FRAC was lower among photocopier operators when compared to healthy controls. Plasma IL-8, LTB4, ICAM-1 and ECP were significantly higher in the photocopier exposed group.
Conclusions: Photocopiers emit high levels of particulate matter. Long term exposure to emissions from photocopiers was not associated with decreased lung function, but resulted in high oxidative stress and systemic inflammation leading to high risk of cardiovascular diseases.