I forwarded the article to my union safety rep and got this response:
"Very interesting, but the conclusion that PLA emissions are not a problem is unjustified. The ability of their particle counter was limited. NIOSH found that while PLA emitted far less particulate, the extremely small size of the PLA nano-particulates makes them likely to be much more toxic. These very fine particles are currently associated with the risk of strokes because they can pass through the lung’s alveoli whole and serve as foci for clot formation.
NIOSH has a statement in their bulletin that now recommends full enclosure and exhausting of all types of 3D printers. That’s my recommendation on all planning jobs now. Of course, you can exclude those 3D printers that don’t emit anything such as the type that squirt a stream of clay slip, cake frosting or other materials at room temperature.
NIOSH usually does the research that you should follow. Independent university stuff is more likely to be limited in the knowledge of their researchers and the type of equipment available. NIOSH is not always right, but so often it pays to listen. For example, they had titanium dioxide pegged as a lung carcinogen 30 years before any other agency. And now they’ve studied the nano TiO2 and set an even more restrictive air quality standard for it based on it being an even more potent carcinogen than respirable TiO2.
And I really think, because they want so desperately to use 3D technology in their classes, that the university researchers have a bias. If they found all of the 3D printers warrant exhaust ventilation, they would probably have a budget problem to provide this ventilation. And as a planner, I know that sometimes it is almost impossible to provide it. Some buildings have outer surface restrictions that do not allow wall penetration and they do not have any chases to the roof that are not already full.
And if you think these are a problem, take a look at the laser cutters!"
Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist
President: Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.
Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE
181 Thompson St., #23
New York, NY 10012 212-777-0062