Definitions (F.A.Q.)

What is fine dust?

Fine dust- also known as aerosol – refers to air borne particles or particulate matter, which may be solid or liquid. Solid particles consist of inorganic and organic matter such as salt, metal, soot, grease and oil or biological matter such as viruses, bacteria, spores, pollen or fungi. Liquid particles are fine droplets. A liquid membrane may enclose solid particles. The particle´s main features are their chemical composition, size and form. This determines how far particles penetrate the lung during inhalation and which processes they trigger. The smaller the airborne particles are, the more deeply they penetrate the lungs, proceeding as far as the bloodstream where they can cause much harm.

Where does fine dust lurk?

Fine dust pollution is much higher indoors than outside in nature. Fine dust pollution indoors exceeds fine dust pollution outdoors by a factor of roughly one, 5 to 2. As humans spend considerably more time indoors than out of doors, fine dust pollution indoors is more important from the point of view of public health. 

Which harmful substances can be found in fine dust?

Harmful substances found in fine dust may include lead oxide, cadmium oxide, nickel oxide, stannic oxide, sodium oxide, sulfate, nitrate, chloride, soot, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAK) etc.

Tests conducted by independent institutes have shown that fine dust in toners and electronic devices involve particular risks as quality control regarding the chemical composition of particulates is often neglected  

What are the repercussions of harmful substances in fine dust?

Harmful substances in fine dust may cause headaches, irritation to the eyes and skin, allergies, bronchitis or even asthma in the short term. In the mid or long-term, they may cause cancer, cardio-vascular diseases and pulmonary fibrosis.

What is a fine particle sticker?

Municipalities in Germany (and in other countries) have imposed a ban on driving in Low Emission Zones since March 1, 2007. Affected areas must be identified as Low Emission Zone by sign type 270.1. Additional signs indicate the type of vehicle and respective sticker color allowed to enter. Sign type 270.2 indicates when you are leaving the Low Emission Zone.

Vehicles without sticker may not enter Low Emission Zones under penalty of 40, 00 € fine and one penalty point in Flensburg, even if the vehicle complies with the required emission standard. This also applies to foreign- registered vehicles such as cars, trucks and busses and to business travelers as well as to tourists. Please refer to www.umwelt-plakette.de

Which harmful substances do laser printers, fax machines and photocopiers emit?

Fine dust pollutants are invisible to the naked eye and can only be seen with special equipment. They can´t be smelled or tasted. To give you an idea of how small these fine dust particles are, please consider the following comparison: one human hair is approx. 0,05mm in diameter. Fine dust particles in toners are approx. 0,00001 to 0,001mm in diameter.

What is toner?

We use toner in laser printers, fax machines and photocopiers. Toners consist entirely of fine dust, which is melted and pressured into the paper, thereby creating the typeface. Tests performed by independent institutes have shown that fine dust in toners and electronic devices involve particular risks as quality control regarding the chemical composition of particulates is often neglected. 

Why is fine toner dust so hazardous?

According to EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH, fine toner dust emits substantial amounts of nickel and mercury. Fluctuations in organostannic compounds with hormone-mimicking effects on styrene and size distribution of particles reveal that toner dust is not acceptable from an environmental or health standpoint. The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has confirmed that toner is carcinogenic. Emissions from laser printers, fax machines or photocopiers contain substances harmful to human health, which may penetrate the lungs and even the bloodstream.

How much fine dust does a laser printer emit?

According to the German Federal Institute for Material Testing up to a billion particles of various sizes can be emitted by a laser printer when printing one page. Considering that we spend 90% of our day indoors, the risk involved is clear.  

How efficient are dexwet filter systems?

As even low concentrations of particulate matter may be carcinogenic, these pollutants should not remain in ambient air in offices but should be filtered out. Dexwet filters protect against harmful substances, which may be emitted when operating office equipment. By simply installing dexwet filter systems in any device, up to 92% of harmful substances have been proven to be filtered out. 

Reference source: German Association " Tod vom Allerfeinsten" (The finest possible death),  ITG im BBU e. V., EPEA International Environmental Research GmbH, Arguk Umweltlabor GmbH, Literature survey on the incidence and medical significance of fine dust indoors.