Occupational Exposure to Printer Toner–Emitted Nanoparticles

High rates of exposure to emitted printer-toner nanoparticles in the workplace has established inflammatory and cardiorespiratory effects, and, according to research presented at the American Thoracic Society 2021 International Conference, it also alters environmental and airway microbiomes.

These findings were presented by Fransiskus Xaverius Ivan, PhD, from Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Dr. Ivan and colleagues conducted a prospective analysis of five printing companies across Singapore, collecting and sequencing air samples from office and printing areas and respiratory specimens from workers stationed in the office and printing areas.

Samples were obtained at the start and end of the work week. All samples were subjected to targeted amplicon sequencing to determine air and host bacteriomes and mycobiomes. Companies were defined as having high particle exposure levels when there was a 3-fold higher particle concentration in the printing versus office area.

The researchers found significant differences in air microbiomes in the printing compared to respective office area (p=0.017 for bacteriomes and p=0.019 for mycobiomes). Interestingly, workers at high-exposure companies had significant differences in host bacteriomes (p=0.008) and mycobiomes (p=0.003), though no such relationship was seen in unexposed, office area workers, regardless of company exposure level.

Key bacterial pathogens identified in the printing areas included Mycoplasma, Acinetobacter, and Fusobacterium; Prevotella was more common in office areas.