Dust from photocopiers can cause lung disease

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Dust from office photocopiers can cause lung disease, according to Austrian scientists, who say that increasing use of copiers will result in more people with respiratory problems. The scientists report the case of a 39-year-old non-smoker who developed a dry cough and breathlessness after working in a newspaper agency, where copiers were in regular use.

Tissue samples from his lungs and lymph nodes showed that his body was reacting to pigment particles in the toner dust, which contained silicon, iron, and copper, all of which can damage the lungs if inhaled. The man's recovery was slow, and nine months after treatment with steroid drugs began there was little improvement. The case is the second to be reported in the Lancet linking lung disease with photocopiers. Liz Hunt