Placeholder image

Hessen court deems toner dust no health hazard

March 11, 2019

Despite recent studies which have raised concerns over possible health issues caused by toner used in laser printers, and by third-party cartridges, the Social Court Hessen has ruled that toner dust “does not make you sick in general.”

The Hessen State Social Court explains that, “According to the current state of scientific knowledge, it cannot be assumed that toner particle or laser printer emissions are generally suitable for causing damage to human health. In a particular case, however, a causation can be detected, but only by a workplace-related inhalation test.”  

The Court goes on to relate an individual case, of a 63-year-old man from Hersfeld-Rotenburg who worked for approximately 4 years as a copier in a copy room. Due to “increasing respiratory complaints”, he applied for his ailments to be recognised as an occupational illness, noting that he “had carried out daily copy and print jobs in the range of 5,000 to 10,000 sheets in a space of only 30 m².”

However, following a workplace analysis and the reviewing of medical reports, the institution of the statutory accident insurance refused to recognise his complaints as an occupational disease. The Court continues, “The causal link between occupational activity and respiratory disease cannot be proven.”

Finally, the Darmstadt judges ruled that the copier, who had already suffered from hayfever and bronchial asthma before working in the copy room, had an “obstructive airway disease and rhinopathy.”

The Court goes on to say, “According to the current medical-scientific and epidemiological findings, it cannot be assumed that toner particle or laser printer emissions are generally suitable for causing damage to human health. In individual cases, this can indeed be proven. However, as the experts’ reports have shown, this presupposes a corresponding workplace-based inhalation test with proof of an allergic reaction.”

The case of the copy room employee echoes that of Michael Voges, who, in 2016, attempted to get his skin condition recognised as a “service accident” caused by toner powder; however, his case was rejected by the Higher Administrative Court.

Despite the failure of both these employees to have their ailments recognised as work-related diseases, the dangers of toner cartridges continue to make headlines. Xerox recently conducted tests on Chinese manufactured toner and found it to contain troubling levels of styrene, which has been found to affect the nervous system and is deemed to be “a human carcinogen”.

In addition, another recent study conducted by ETIRA on new-build cartridges revealed high levels of flame-retardant DecaBDE, and a Harvard University research team have raised red flags concerning the potential effects of nanomaterials in printer toners.

Categories : World Focus

Tags :

Leave a Reply