Physicochemical and morphological characterization of nanoparticles from photocopiers: implications for environmental health

BF-STEM image

Bright field scanning transmission electron microscopy (BF-STEM) image of airborne particulate matter collected from a photocopier’s exhaust port.

In a recent article published in the peer-reviewed Nanotoxicology journal, RJ Lee Group’s Dr. Kristin Bunker, along with Dhimiter Bello, John Martin, Christopher Santeufemio, Qingwei Sun, Martin Shafer, and Philip Demokritou, explores the potential linking of printing and photocopying with environmental health effects by analyzing nanoparticles produced by the technologies.

Here is the abstract:

Several reports link printing and photocopying with genotoxicity, immunologic and respiratory diseases. Photocopiers and printers emit nanoparticles, which may be involved in these diseases. The physicochemical and morphological composition of these emitted nanoparticles, which is poorly understood and is critical for toxicological evaluations, was assessed in this study using both real-time instrumentation and analytical methods. Tests included elemental composition (40 metals), semi-volatile organics (100 compounds) and single particle analysis, using multiple high-sensitivity/resolution techniques. Identical analyses were performed on the toners and dust collected from copier’s exhaust filter. Engineered nanoparticles, including titanium dioxide, iron oxide and fumed silica, and several metals were found in toners and airborne nanoscale fraction. Chemical composition of airborne nanoscale fraction was complex and reflected toner chemistry. These findings are important in understanding the origin and toxicology of such nanoparticles. Further investigation of their chemistry, larger scale exposure studies and thorough toxicological characterization of emitted nanoparticles is needed.

– Abstract from Nanotoxicology

The full article is available for download here.

Kristin L. Bunker, Ph.D.

About Kristin L. Bunker, Ph.D.

Kristin L. Bunker, Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering, is currently a Senior Scientist at RJ Lee Group, Inc. where she specializes in the analysis and characterization of materials utilizing ultra high-resolution electron microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy techniques. She directs and conducts forensic examinations of particulate, nanomaterials, coatings, and thin films in advanced materials, environmental, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical projects. Dr. Bunker works closely with industry, national laboratories, and government agencies in the evaluation of nanoparticles from an industrial hygiene and environmental perspective. She is an expert in the characterization of various nanomaterials used in sensors, diagnostics, aerospace composites, architectural products and protective coatings among others.  
In 2012 Dr. Bunker became the President of the internationally recognized Microanalysis Society (MAS). She is the author or co-author of more than 40 publications covering topics in semiconductors, life sciences, mineralogy, and nanomaterials. Prior to receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Bunker served as an expert witness in California courts for the analysis of Gunshot Residue (GSR).

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