Dec 8, 2015 | By Kira

We’ve heard quite a bit lately about the toxicity of 3D printing materials in regards to aquatic life, as well as the harmful impact of certain 3D printing technologies on the environment at large, but what about the potential health hazards for workers or other people who are continuously exposed to 3D printing technology? A collaborative research project between safety science organization Underwriters Laboratories, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, is currently underway to determine the impact of 3D printing emissions on air quality and human health.

Specifically, the two-year research project was designed to characterize the chemical and particle emissions from 3D printers; to define measurement and evaluation methodologies for 3D printer emissions; and ultimately to evaluate their potential impact on human health. The project is expected to be completed in 2016, and could change how 3D printer manufactures and industrial 3D printer users employ the technology and regard the safety of their employees.

Led by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote safe living and working environments for people through the application of safety science and hazard-based safety engineering, the 3D printing air quality study is taking place in two phases. The first, led by Rodney Weber professor in the School of Earth and Atmosphere Sciences at George Tech, is in the process of defining the appropriate methodologies for characterizing and measuring particle and gaseous emissions from 3D printing technologies.

The second phase, carried out by the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory, will then take Georgia Tech’s findings and assess the potential health hazards from exposure to these 3D printer emissions. Emory University’s work will begin in 2016.

“Our 3D printing research underscores the critical convergence of chemical, environmental and human health safety, expanding the safety paradigm beyond the exploration of traditional fire, shock and casualty criteria,” said Dr. Marilyn Black, vice president and senior technical advisor at UL. “This study is part of UL Inc.’s commitment to share knowledge that helps make products safer to operate, safer for the environment and safer for societal health and well-being.”

UL currently has multiple other initiatives underway that seek to evaluate the impact of indoor pollution sources, such as 3D printers, on human health. Their research is also dedicated to enabling steps for reducing these health hazards and making working, learning and living environments safer in general.

Though we will have to wait for the official results regarding the potential health hazards of 3D printing emissions, the findings—be they negative or positive—can only help to strengthen and improve the 3D printing industry as it continues to grown and as 3D printing technology becomes ever more prominent in global production facilities, educational institutes, and even in our homes.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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Gary Swayze wrote at 12/19/2015 10:53:07 PM:

Eventually they will regulate solar and wind technology out of existence so you can't use that for your own electricity either, because their manufacture "hurts the environment". The Feds don't care about the environment or they wouldn't have over-regulated/destroyed the logging industry which has led to countless acres, miles of burned down forests and dead wildlife in the West! How many endangered species are now even smaller due to the Feds' actions? HMMMM?

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