At-home 3-D printers (available from $400 to $1,300) that let you manufacture your own cup and saucer or screwdriver can release from 20 to 200 billion toxic nanoparticles as they “print” objects. A recent test ranked them all as “high emitters.” And some studies indicate that the emissions are related to total and cardiorespiratory mortality, hospital admissions for stroke and asthma symptoms.
The way 3-D printers work is that they heat up a thermoplastic feedstock (the equivalent of an inkjet cartridge) and then extrude the plastic in layers to create your desired object. The lower-temperature models use PLA (polylactic acid) feedstock and may be safer than the higher temperature ones that use ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) feedstock.
But industrial 3-D printers that are already used to make everything from scientific equipment to molds of teeth operate in a tightly controlled and filtered environment. At-home models are freestanding and don't come with exhaust ventilation or filtration accessories. So you and your kids could breathe in harmful mini-particles of plastic and associated chemicals.
Our tip? Hold off on buying that desktop 3-D printer until more tests are done to ensure it's safe for in-home use. And if you do have one already, make sure it's in a garage or shed that's very well-ventilated and install an air filter. Don't let the kids use it, and consider wearing a ventilator when you're around it.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.