3D printers have been found to emit potentially hazardous ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds. In a preliminary survey, researchers have begun to investigate whether workers using 3D printing technologies may be at risk of respiratory illness from occupational exposure[i].
Workers in 17 companies that use 3D printing, including commercial prototyping businesses, educational institutions and public libraries, provided information on their demographics, occupation and health. Among 46 surveyed workers, 27 (59 %) reported having respiratory symptoms at least once per week in the past year. Working more than 40 hours each week with 3D printers was significantly associated with diagnoses of asthma or allergic rhinitis. The researchers observed a wide variation in occupational hygiene practices in the 17 printing workplaces that they surveyed.
This was a small preliminary study, but the findings of frequently reported respiratory symptoms suggest a need for additional studies of workers exposed to 3D printing.
[i] Chan, F. L. et al. Health survey of employees regularly using 3D printers. Occup Med (Lond) doi:10.1093/occmed/kqy042 https://academic.oup.com/occmed/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/occmed/kqy042/4925748?redirectedFrom=fulltext (Accessed 15 March 2018)