3D Printers and Health Issues

As with any new technology, the impacts on health posed by 3D Printers hasn’t been fully fleshed out. Now according he American Library Association:

Several studies have shown that 3D printers produce high amounts of ultrafine particles (UFPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) while in use, and that these particles and vapors are detectable for many hours after the printers have been shut off. UFPs have been linked to adverse health conditions, such as asthma and cardiovascular issues, because they can pass through the lungs and travel to other organs. They can also transfer toxic material into the body, including blood and tissue cells. The US Environmental Protection Administration has classified many VOCs as toxic air pollutants. Exposure to certain VOCs, such as benzene and methylene chloride, has been linked to cancer.

The materials used in the studies was ABS and PLA; which are the two types of plastic we use at the library. The two easiest things you can do to take care of yourself and your patrons are:

  • Make sure the printer is in a well ventilated area
  • Don’t sit too close to a printer in action for too long

That last one sounds like the warnings my mom used to give me about watching TV. If you’re concerned about the ventilation of your printer, get in touch with your Workers’ Comp program; most of them have free evaluation services.

If you want to read more about the study go here: https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2016/10/11/the-health-effects-of-3d-printing/ 

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