Let’s be honest — when the topic of printer ink comes to mind, your health and safety are probably low on the list of concerns. Top on the list is cost, availability, print yields, or even selling them for cash.
The truth is, most ink and toner products are made with strict adherence to industry standards and safety guidelines. While most inks and toners are non-toxic, the contents vary by brand and product, so it pays to know what’s inside your printer ink and toner.

What’s In Your Printer Ink?

The ingredients in most printer inks are water, ethylene glycol, and alcohol. Nothing toxic, but ingesting it can make you sick. However, the machines used in most offices don’t use liquid ink. Rather, they are made with a fine powder called toner that they melt onto the paper. Toner does contain compounds that are dangerous in large quantities. But toner is certainly considered safe in the quantities one is exposed to in an office. In general, toner cartridges are also considered safe. But if they become damaged or broken, they can release toxins. The chemical called carbon black used when creating black toner is known to cause cancer. Some toners also contain small amounts of iron.

Play It Safe

Bottom line? It’s a good idea to take care when handling and using toner, printers, and other office equipment. Better to play it safe — wear gloves whenever changing the toner in any of your office equipment or disposing of old ink cartridges. Carbon black inhalation can cause headaches, eye irritation, chronic itchiness and small growths on the tongue. Direct contact with the skin may result in mild to severe irritation. Why take the chance? Keep a box of disposable protective gloves near the printer supplies as a reminder.

Another important factor to reduce health concerns is to ensure the ink and toner you are buying are brand name, authentic products and not repackaged or generic formulas. Original toner means no damaged cartridges and no risk of coming into contact with toner powder. All major brands of ink and toner cartridges will include a Material Safety Data Sheet.