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Toner in Compost
I apologize for reposting this question, but I really did not receive a
definitive answer from the sources I was able to identify. Allow me to
explain the situation:
We have a disintegrator (a super shredder) that we use to "sanitize"
classified documents and media. A disintegrator uses a set of rotating
blades and screens to "shave" the paper into very small pieces. In order
to meet our destruction of classified material requirements, we are
required to shred the document into particle sizes no greater than 1/8
inch in diameter. The disintegrator pulverizes the paper into particles
sizes approximately 1/16 inch in diameter.
The process damages the fiber to the extent it cannot be recycled in
traditional paper recycling programs. We have investigated several
opportunities for the paper including dry land composting. We have
initiated a program to make the paper available to employees for personal
use. Some have used it for bedding for animals. Many are using it as a
mulch in gardening.
A question has been raised at our facility as to the biological effects the
toner from laser printing and ink printing (such as desktop ink printers)
may have on items grown in a garden. We have reviewed all of the
Material Safety Data Sheets for the different types of toners and toner
cartridges we use at our site. For the most part, and this information is
not proprietary, the toners used in laser printing are composed primarily
of a styrene acrylate polymer and a coloring agent. Some use carbon
black. Others use iron oxide. For ink printing, there appear to be no
We are looking for any toxilogical studies that may have been performed
on paper from laser printing and/or ink printing and its biological effects
on garden vegetables. Any information you have is greatly appreciated.
Also, please feel free to circulate this among other list servers. We need
solid toxilogical information.
Thanks in advance for your assistance!
Pollution Prevention Group