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Safety of Photocopiers

By Tracy Twyman ; Updated January 09, 2018

The use of photocopier machines carries certain risks, including eye damage and exposure to hazardous chemicals. People who use photocopiers regularly should be aware of these dangers.


Hazards associated with photocopiers include exposure to toxic chemicals like ozone, carbon monoxide, selenium sulfide, styrene, cadmium sulfide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Short-term exposure to these compounds can cause irritation of the eyes, skin and lungs. Chronic exposure can cause cancer, kidney failure and fetal damage. Other possible safety issues involve hearing damage from harmful noise levels, burns from touching hot surfaces, and eye damage from ultraviolet light.


As the British Transport Salaried Staffs' Association points out, safety risks increase greatly when an office uses multiple photocopiers in the same space. These risks also rise in proportion to the size and frequency of print jobs.


The London Hazards Centre recommends changing photocopier filters regularly, wearing gloves while servicing the photocopier, and using photocopiers in a large, well-ventilated space. This will reduce the chance of burns or chemical exposure. Keeping the cover down prevents eye damage. Also, the California Department of General Services recommends avoiding petroleum-based inks and toners in favor of soy-based products.

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