During these times of pandemic, confinement is a necessity for most people; who’re staying locked at home, with little opportunity to get out. Space is therefore limited in this idea of partitioning, where many people find themselves in the obligation of working from home. Your home becomes your office, where you use many devices, such as computers and printers. The latter have evolved enormously in their method of printing and paper traction, but also in their quality, their size and their cost.
The massive computerization of companies has not done away with printers and the use of paper as a medium for information, and they’re still widely popular. But what you don’t know is that these items can pose a real threat to your health, according to a new study from West Virginia University.
Firstly, you need to know that printers aren’t the only danger encountered in your job or office, and lately, the sedentary mode we’re adopting combined with the use of many technological tools is becoming really harmful for our health.
Recent studies have shown that 86 percent of employees across America work from their chairs. A lot of jobs are becoming sedentary, and our lifestyle is making us move less and less. Experts say the general public does not take the dangers of physical inactivity seriously enough.
In the United States – Researchers have investigated the effects of sitting in the onset of cardiovascular disease.
Results confirmed that people who spend more than 23 hours per week in a chair are 64% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who sit less than 11 hours per week.
In addition, 35 chronic diseases are favored by time spent sitting in front of a computer and physical inactivity. A sedentary lifestyle also increases the risk of cancer by 25%. Yet the recommendations are unanimous: the first treatment against high blood pressure, against type 2 diabetes and against obesity, is above all physical activity. The best preventative treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is walking. Physical activity is also the best medicine for combating the sneaky effects of repetitive stress. Neurohormones are thought to be modified by physical activity, and after exercise, the muscles are as relaxed as if you had given a dose of tranquilizer.
Chief medical officer at ACAP Health Consulting Timothy Church spoke to Huffington Post in 2012, recommending taking breaks from sitting, leaving your chair and taking a little walk whenever you can.
Screens also are enourmously affecting your body in ways you’re not aware of. Our exposure to blue light has increased steadily in recent years with the increasing use of screens. In the update of its 2010 expertise on LEDs, published in May 2019, ANSES confirms the dangers of the light emerging from screens, which has a shorter wavelength and, therefore, produces a greater amount of energy. This report, which is based on analysis of the latest scientific data on the subject, shows long-term effects associated with chronic exposure, which increase the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Beyond this toxicity which can lead to a decrease in vision, the agency also highlights a risk of disturbance of biological rhythms and sleep in the event of exposure, even weak, to blue light in the evening or in the morning.
Dr. Jeanne Duffy and her colleagues at Harvard University explain that the use of computer or tablets a few moments before bedtime leads to a decrease in the secretion of melatonin, a hormone known to promote sleep. Their results are consistent with the results of other studies and indicate that the use of devices emitting light at night has several impacts on physiology and behavior.
Their findings show that in the evening, when participants used tablets, melatonin secretion was delayed and lower, and bedtime was on average half an hour later. In addition, when using the tablets, participants reported being less sleepy at night and less awake within an hour of waking up the next day.
After displaying these facts, let’s go back to the printers and their unknown effect on your body.
Professor Nancy Lan Guo and her research group have realized an experiment, where they put rats into a room with a laser printer. The rats were kept in the chamber for five hours a day, for a period of 21 days while the printers were working.
The chosen schedule has an explanation: rat’s life expectancy is about one or two years. For humans, that would be more like four or eight years of five-hour-a-day exposure.
The researchers checked the subjects’ cells for modification on their genetic material daily, and were surprised by the genomic modifications that appeared since day one, and which are linked to cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic disorders.
Furthermore, Metabolites, like glucose and oleic acid, which are the product of digestion and are the body’s fuel, were also affected by inhaling the printer toner.
The professor stated that the most vulnerable subject to this threat is pregnant women, whose genetic material is passed on to a next generation.
To verify their observations, Guo also conducted a research to inspect the genomic structure alterations on the Singaporean printing company workers, and their findings were confirmed.
A group of researchers from Australia actually carried out a test of their own back in 2007. Initially the study was conducted to study the efficacy of ventilation systems to protect office settings from outdoor air pollutants. The experts then concluded that printers are a major source of internal pollution. Their study revealed that a total of 17 printers produced the harmful nanoparticles. The ultra-fine particles are of most concern because they can penetrate deep into the lungs where they can pose a significant health risk.
In conclusion, and during these hard times, most of us spend 90 percent of our time indoors for most part of our activities. So it is important to ensure that the air we breathe is as clear and unpolluted as possible. And in response to the alarming results of these studies, many recommendations should be taken into consideration. Firstly, avoid being in a room with a laser printer for too long. Rather than putting the machine in your office, try to install it in the hallway where you use it only when printing. Ventilation and exposure controls should also be set up in rooms where laser printers are in use, to mitigate the concentration of nanoparticles released in the air during the printing and copying process.