Should every office have one?
By Barry Fox A DEVICE that reduces the levels of ozone in offices went on sale last week. But is it a solution to a problem that no longer exists? The British Allergy Foundation (BAF) has awarded the Nozone, which is made by Atmospheric Solutions of Gloucestershire, its “Seal of Approval” and says it is “highly effective” at removing ozone. But the manufacturers of the office laser printers and copiers accused of generating indoor ozone say the device is not needed because modern equipment no longer produces significant levels of ozone. High voltages and sparks can turn the oxygen (O2) in air into ozone (O3), a pungent gas known to irritate the eyes and respiratory tract. Nozone looks like an air-freshener and contains a pad impregnated with “a chemical constituent of natural oils” that accelerates the breakdown of O3 to O2. Robert Davies, president of the BAF, says that laboratory tests on Nozone confirmed that it works as claimed. The engines at the heart of the first laser printers and copiers used a high voltage on a thin wire to charge an electrostatic drum. This attracted the carbon particles used to transfer images to paper. But the highly-charged wire also generated ozone. In 1990, Canon, which makes the engines for its own and other brands of printers and copiers, changed the design for all except the biggest high-volume, high-speed copiers. The more recent design has a charge transfer roller instead of a wire, which creates only two parts per billion of ozone in air. Ambient air has at least 25 ppb ozone. Hewlett Packard is the market leader in laser printers and buys its engines from Canon. “There is no health hazard from a HP LaserJet printer,” says Paul Burwood, the British marketing manager. But Stuart Maxwell, technical director of Atmospheric Solutions,