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OSHA Hazard Information Bulletins
Adverse Effects to Workers Exposed to Photo-copying Machine Chemical Exhaust

July 12, 1991




  • Director
  • Office of Field Programs


  • Director
  • Directorate of Technical Support


  • Hazard Information Bulletin - Adverse Effects to Workers Exposed to Photo-copying Machine Chemical Exhaust

The Directorate of Technical Support issues Hazard Information Bulletins (HIBs) in accordance with OSHA Instruction CPL 2.65 to provide relevant information regarding unrecognized or misunderstood safety and health hazards, inadequacies of materials, devices, techniques, and engineering controls. HIBs are initiated based on information provided by the field staff, studies, reports and concerns expressed by safety and health professionals, employers, and the public. Information is compiled based on a thorough evaluation of available facts, literature and in coordination with appropriate parties. HIBs do not necessarily reflect OSHA policy.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Toxic Substances has reports(1,2) on a number of potential health hazards associated with employees' exposure to exhaust from prototype pre-production copying machines and experimental copying media. The off-gassing chemicals were generated in the course of experimental procedures using acrylate, alkylphenol, substituted aniline (OSHA TWA-2ppm) and aldehyde (formaldehyde OSHA TWA-3ppm)

In a 1988 incident at a Research and Development (R & D) laboratory, five employees experienced nose bleeding. The employees were running prototype (non commercial) pre-production copying machines with no filters. The laboratory ventilation was minimal. In a 1990 incident, three employees of a R & D coating crew section experienced intermittent nose bleeding; two had headaches and one had a "raw" throat feeling. This incident occurred following exposure to off-gassing from the test chemicals while processing receiver sheets and images in a laboratory oven. The reports obtained from EPA stated that the ventilation system was not functioning properly.

When the above listed chemicals are exposed to a temperature of 130 to 150°C, off-gassing may occur. Exposures to such off-gassing may cause employees to experience nose bleeding, "raw" throat feeling and perhaps headaches. This may occur when the copying units are not equipped with filters and unit locations are not properly ventilated.

No personal exposure measurements were taken at the time of either incident. It is not known at this time if the health effects are due to over exposure to a particular chemical or the combined effect of a number of chemicals.

The Research and Development occurrences have been resolved by using appropriate filters or ventilation. Company reports indicate no complaints have been received since these changes were made.

Please distribute this bulletin to all Area Offices, State Plan States and Consultation Project Officers.


  1. Environmental Protection Agency, Document number 8EHQ-1094, October 12, 1990.
  2. Environmental Protection Agency, Document number 8EHQ-0668 October 12, 1990.
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