ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Photocopiers work by bonding carbon powder to paper using heat and as a by product of the reaction produce ozone (also see Ozone, this section). If photocopies are used to the manufacturer's specifications there should be no danger to staff using them. Excessive use of a photocopier outside of the manufacturer's recommendations will cause the unit to over­heat bringing with it the small possibility of igniting the carbon powder.

Overuse will also raise the level of ozone in the immediate vicinity of the machine. This will not be a problem if the photocopier is situated in a large room or a well ventilated area; but if the photocopier is in a confined space the level of ozone can rise to dangerous levels. Ozone is a strong oxidising agent and will cause eye irritation in some individuals when the concentration in the atmosphere is less than .05 parts per million. Ozone can alter red blood cells and destroy the lining of the lungs if in high enough concentrations. Ozone has a pungent, irritating smell. If you can smell it then the concentration is too high.

Toners used in photocopiers (wet and dry) contain low levels of toxic chemicals, including arsenic. Staff replacing toner in photocopiers should wear rubber gloves as a precaution against contamination.

Canon Photocopier Service.
Written communication.
Canon Australia Pty. Ltd., Adelaide, South Australia.


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