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Study links printer toner exposure to genetic changes

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Morgantown, WV — Nanoparticles from printer toner emissions can cause “very significant” changes to workers’ genetic and metabolic profiles, results of a recent study led by a researcher from West Virginia University show.

Nancy Lan Guo, a WVU assistant professor of community medicine, and her colleagues placed rats into a chamber with a common laser printer for five hours a day over a 21-day period while the printer ran nonstop – “equivalent to an occupational setting.” The rats were assessed every four days for changes to cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic function.

A single day of toner-particle exposure was enough to disturb the activity of genes associated with metabolism, immune response and other essential biological processes in the rats. Additionally, the rats showed adverse effects in the lungs and blood at every observed time point.

“The changes are very significant from Day One,” Guo said in a Feb. 27 press release.

 

In work areas where laser printers are heavily used, Guo recommends implementing special ventilation and exposure controls to protect workers, particularly pregnant women, from exposure. “Because once a lot of these genes are changed, they get passed on through the generations,” Guo said. “It’s not just you.”

The study was published online Dec. 16 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

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