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#1 Posted : 30 October 2000 16:20:00(UTC)
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Posted By Al Penman
Can anyone help me ?. I am trying to find out the safety implications of photocopiers being in close proximity to personnel that work in the same office. Is there a minimum distance a workstation must be from a working photocopier?. I know that photocopiers have been linked to sick building syndrome but I don't know the full facts. Any information on this subject will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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#2 Posted : 31 October 2000 11:21:00(UTC)
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Posted By Laurie
I believe that photcopiers can give off ozone which can give rise to similar symptoms to SBS.

Hwever, in my experience there is normally a hidden agenda e.g. a desire for a bigger office or a faster printer!!

Laurie
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#3 Posted : 31 October 2000 11:42:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ken Taylor
Essentially, there needs to be adequate ventilation for the Ozone, Carbon particles, etc that are produced (this will usually require general air extraction that does not draw air across breathing zones) and positioning so that persons are not subjected to the flashing light in their eyes (there has been debate as to the frequencies to induce epileptic events - but the light is not good for anyone's eyes).
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#4 Posted : 01 November 2000 12:48:00(UTC)
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Posted By Bryn Maidment
Something I put together a couple of years ago, hope it helps.

Photocopiers & Ozone production

Concern has been expressed by a number of staff regarding the production of ozone by photocopiers and its possible harmful effects. This concern has been fuelled by alarmist press reports concerning the “dangers” of such emissions.

Ozone is a natural gas which forms in sunlight and lightning storms. It is also generated by photocopiers when copies are made. Although a vital ingredient of the upper atmosphere it can have a harmful effect on the human respiratory system when it is present in sufficient amounts at ground level such as during the summer months. However, ozone changes to oxygen continually and with a very short half life this depletion is fairly rapid.

All copiers have to have catalytic filters fitted before they are allowed to be sold. These aid the natural depletion of ozone significantly so that the level around a copier will be less than that encountered outside on a sunny day.

Ozone generation and depletion are affected by many factors such as temperature, room size, ventilation, number of copies made and frequency of servicing.

I have investigated this issue and all of the main brands of copiers emit ozone within the legally permitted maximum exposure level of 0.1ppm (parts per million). Hazard Data sheets supplied by major manufacturers show that during the standard tests which include an eight hour continuous operation with no ventilation, no machine exceeded 0.07ppm.

Although these levels are judged to be safe the following measures can be taken to reduce levels further;

a) use in a ventilated area such as a corridor (excluding fire exit routes or where the copier will create an obstacle) or where a window can be opened.

b) take less copies, spread out over time.

c) ensure servicing is carried out at least every 12 months. Filter life is only 12 -15 months so this measure will ensure their effectiveness. If in doubt ask the engineer if they have been changed.

d) if possible site the machine in a separate office.

e) do not sit directly by the exhaust grille.

It is stressed that machines do not produce harmful levels of ozone and that these measures are to reduce the present low levels even further.

The sore throats, headaches, dry itchy eyes etc. that are sometimes reported by copier users could be attributed to low humidity levels, partly caused by the dry air that the copiers emit, and not by ozone.

Levels of other emissions such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and dust are negligible.

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#5 Posted : 01 November 2000 19:19:00(UTC)
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Posted By Geoff Burt
Bryn

Excellent response but (and there's always a but!) I'd like to add my 2d worth.

I've carried out quite a number of first line draeger checks and never had one instance outside the limits and in most cases not measurable by this method.

The one saving grace of ozone is the smell, there will be an acute smell - cat pee is the closest equivalent - well before the limit is reached.

Life of filters is also very dependent on the amount of use of the copier and as you say in accordance with manufacturers instructions.

However there may be more to it. I have dealt with a lot of complaints from staff in large companies where the copiers are regularly maintained. I have never experienced a complaint from a small company where it might be reasonable to assume the maintenance is neglected.

Geoff
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#6 Posted : 01 November 2000 21:04:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ken Taylor
- and I've walked into quite a few rooms where the needs of photocopying have taken priority over those of staff - with people having to work in hot conditions and the smell of toner, etc. Ozone, whilst below occupational exposure levels, is just one of the emissions (including heat) that need to be dealt with. Good ventilation is almost always the answer.
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#7 Posted : 02 November 2000 13:42:00(UTC)
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Posted By Geoff Burt
Agree completely.

Geoff

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