Toronto Metropolitan University
Emissions and health risks from the use of 3D printers in an occupational setting.pdf (1.59 MB)

Emissions and health risks from the use of 3D printers in an occupational setting

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-11, 20:47 authored by Felix L Chan, Chun-Yip HonChun-Yip Hon, Susan M. Tarlo, Nikhil Rajaram, Ronald House

The aim of this study was to determine concentrations of particulates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from 3D printers using polylactic acid (PLA) filaments at a university workroom to assess exposure and health risks in an occupational setting. Under typical-case (one printer) and worst-case (three printers operating simultaneously) scenarios, particulate concentra- tion (total and respirable), VOCs and formaldehyde were measured. Air samples were collected in the printing room and adjacent hallway. Size resolved levels of nano-diameter particles were also collected in the printing room. Total particulate levels were higher in the worst-case scenario (0.7 mg/m3) vs. typical-case scenario (0.3 mg/m3). Respirable particulate and formaldehyde con- centrations were similar between the two scenarios. Size-resolved measurements showed that most particles ranged from approximately 27 to 116 nm. Total VOC levels were approximately 6-fold higher during the worst-case scenario vs. typical situation with isopropyl alcohol being the predominant VOC. Airborne concentrations in the hallway were generally lower than inside the printing room. All measurements were below their respective occupational exposure limits. In summary, emissions of particulates and VOCs increased when multiple 3D printers were operating simultaneously. Airborne levels in the adjacent hallway were similar between the two scenarios. Overall, data suggest a low risk of significant and persistent adverse health effects. Nevertheless, the health effects attributed to 3D printing are not fully known and adherence to good hygiene principles is recommended during use of this technology. 




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