Occupational exposure to nanoparticles at commercial photocopy centers

J Hazard Mater. 2015 Nov 15:298:351-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2015.06.021. Epub 2015 Jun 17.


Photocopiers emit high levels of nanoparticles (PM0.1). To-date little is known of physicochemical composition of PM0.1 in real workplace settings. Here we perform a comprehensive physicochemical and morphological characterization of PM0.1 and raw materials (toners and paper) at eight commercial photocopy centers that use color and monochrome photocopiers over the course of a full week. We document high PM0.1 exposures with complex composition and several ENM in toners and PM0.1. Daily geometric mean PM0.1 concentrations ranged from 3700 to 34000 particles/cubic-centimeter (particles/cm(3)) (GSD 1.4-3.3), up to 12 times greater than background, with transient peaks >1.4 million particles/cm(3). PM0.1 contained 6-63% organic carbon, <1% elemental carbon, and 2-8% metals, including iron, zinc, titania, chromium, nickel and manganese, typically in the <0.01-1% range, and in agreement with toner composition. These findings document widespread ENM in toner formulations and high nanoparticle exposures are an industry-wide phenomenon. It further calls attention to the need to substantially redesign the interface of this technology with workers and consumers.

Keywords: Copy center; Engineered nanoparticles; NanoEHS; Titanium dioxide; Toner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis
  • Carbon / analysis
  • Computer Systems
  • Copying Processes*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Nanoparticles / adverse effects
  • Nanoparticles / analysis*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Paper
  • Titanium / adverse effects
  • Titanium / chemistry
  • Workplace


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • titanium dioxide
  • Carbon
  • Titanium