Toxicity of filaments

Unfortunately, in Bambulab store, there is not much info about toxicity of certain (rare) filaments that can be purchased. The question I have is which filaments are okay to be printed inside the house/room where people live and considering that there is no special ventilation implemented.

ABS - it is widely known to be toxic.
PC - ?
PET-CF - ?
PAHT-CF - ?

Thanks for your information!

No matter what the claims are if you are worried about your health look into putting the printer in a vented enclosure. I put mine in a big enclosure with a vent powered by an inline duct fan to push air out a window. It’s better than nothing and doesn’t affect print quality for me.

There is also something called a bento box that someone designed where you can cycle chamber air through a HEPA filter and carbon. It is a cool project and there is also a version that uses a Qi wireless charger for power.

Exhausting fumes from melting plastics seems like a good idea no matter if there’s claims there’s low VOC!

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Even ABS is not highly toxic, its more smelly and for some people causing slight alergic reactions. Printing in a seperate room with the window open is usually enough if you have a closed chamber. But as mentioned above, you can also vent or build a filter for the enclosure.
Just don’t spent all day next to the printer while it prints, but who wants to do that with all the noise anyways :slight_smile:

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I’d recommend you to not spread misinformation about such serious topics. ABS is highly toxic and smelling the fumes actually is when it’s already too late and will have an impact on you. The fumes are toxic and carcinogenic. The same goes for ASA, PA and possibly more. The impact of VOCs isn’t tracked well enough yet, but it is assumed PLA, TPU and PET-G aren’t really dangerous to people, the others do release some VOCs and some of those are found to be carcinogenic and toxic.

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I do not spread misinformation.
ABS fumes under normal processing circumstances aren’t considered an inhalation hazard. No study found any evidence for carcinogenic properties of ABS either. ABS is unpleanant for some people and causes slight nausea or drowsiness, but most people do not notice anything beside the smell.
Under normal processing circumstances, aka normal extrusion, ABS does not contain or emit any chemicals that are classified as toxic.
That is FAR away from being highly toxic. Keeping the printer in a seperate room with a window open as mentioned is still a good safety measure, but you highly overestimate the toxic properties of ABS. Its more about comfort then serious health hazards, about better safe then sorry. ABS fumes are decently researched as it is used on an industrial scale and at least in many western countries there are strict worker protection laws in place that mandatory such.

That said, ABS stinks, ABS can cause eye irritation, drowsiness and in worst case headaches for some people, but unless you spend many many years in constant ABS fumes with high levels of concentration or actually start to burn ABS, its not a big health risk.

I would not want the stink, so I use ASA mostly.

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It might be not directly harmful to everyone, but precautions should still be considered, especially when considering long-term exposure or when kids arround. Sitting next to an open 3d printer while printing ABS for hours and days for ex. is defenitly a health risk. Especially when printing with ABS, ASAas they gas out a lot of VOCs.
But even more concerning ist the SER rate - Particle Specific Emission Rate. The inhalation of ultra fine particles should be avoided by any chance and can damage your health immediately when these particles accumulate in the deep air sacs and alveoli of your lung. And ABS produces a lot of these fine particles, esp. compared to PETG or PLA. Think about the diesel scandal of VW, cheating with there softwaqre and particle filters and catalysators.
If you browse pubmed or any other big studyserver, you find a lot of evident studies warning, even in case of 3d printing!
For fine particles, the EU guideline values, are significantly higher than the WHO recommendations from 2005. The EU limit value for fine dust with a particle size of 2.5 micrometers (PM 2.5) is 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The WHO previously recommended 10 and has now reduced this number to 5 micrograms. In the case of fine dust with a particle size of 10 microns, the EU even allows 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air, while the WHO lowers the guideline value from 20 to 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/ajrccm/136.5.1117
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2011.07.002
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0668.2005.00393.x
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.106001
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2018.12.014
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.promfg.2019.10.020

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You are correct about fine particals, but a lot of things we do on a regular basis produce a more fine particals then 3d printers, like using a gas oven, lighting a some candles just to give some examples.
And in the EU the limits you mentioned are for clean outside air, the limits for workspaces are at 950 micrograms.

All I am saying there is no need to freak out with ABS or 3d printing. Use common sense, but there ain’t a need to panic when printing such materials.

Since the dilution effects are less severe indoors than in the outdoor air, the particle pollution in the indoor air is often higher than in the outdoor air.
It has been proven that inhaling fine dust has a negative effect on human health. Essentially, two properties of the dust particles, which are shaped by the type of source from which they are emitted, are decisive for the health effects of fine dust.
And the ⁠WHO has determined in studies that there is no fine dust concentration below which no harmful effects are to be expected.

The 950 µg/m³ limit value is a value for the temporary (short term) exposure of healthy workers, while NO2 in the outside air can also affect sensitive people around the clock.
In Germany (EU) MAK values ​​do not apply to office workplaces or private rooms. Rather, the guide values ​​of the Committee for Indoor Guide Values ​​(AIR), formerly the ad hoc working group of the Indoor Air Hygiene Commission (IRK) and the Working Group of the Supreme State Health Authorities (AOLG), apply here. At the end of 2018, the committee revised and updated the previously applicable guidelines. The short-term reference value II is 250 µg NO2/m3 (hazard value) and the short-term reference value I (precautionary value) is 80 µg NO2/m3. The measurement period is one hour. If a long-term assessment is required, the AIR recommends using the ⁠WHO⁠ guide value for indoor air of 40 µg NO2/m³ as an assessment standard for the assessment of long-term exposure. The short-term reference value II is an impact-related value which must be acted on immediately if it is reached or exceeded. This higher concentration can be a health hazard, especially for sensitive people who stay in the rooms for a long time.

So, PC, PAHT-CF, PET-CF are similar to ABS when it comes to toxicity?

Let me explain why I am asking this. I am in a search for a material, that I would use to print when I need higher temperature resistance than PLA and PETG can offer. It is not something I would print constantly, but just critical parts that really need it. And if you do not have specially ventilated room in your house (which most people don’t), which material should one use. Does any of PC, PAHT-CF, PET-CF material provide “lower” toxicity compared to ABS? Also, the price is not a factor here, considering that one would print occasionally only critical pieces with this material.

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NO2 is produced at much much higher temps then what a typical 3d desktop printer can dream of reaching.

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I found this: GitHub - nevermore3d/Nevermore_Micro: Activated Carbon Filters. Bad smells or fumes, or complaints thereof, should not keep you from being a maker!

According to some charts, Nylon almost exclusively emits Propylene glycol - Wikipedia and Caprolactam - Wikipedia

You get propylene glycol if you smoke.

Caprolactam looks like it is not seriously toxic and there are on going studies.

So, printing PAHT-CF here and there, closed down X1 with extra BentoBox + additional active carbon output filter, should be fine even when performed in the house.

What do you think?

I used propylene glycol as a carrier for nicotine and flavor while vaping. Vaping helped me quit smoking 17 years ago. I dont think cigarettes has propylene gylcol in them.

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The question on how toxic it is is always about the concentration and exposure time. Even the most toxic substances in a low enough concentration is pretty harmless and even absolutely non toxic stuff in high enough concentration can kill you if you are exposed long enough to it.

And the concentration emitted during normal printing, specially in a closed case isn’t really high, same like laser printers who emit quite a bit of dangerous small particals. But usually concentration remains not really high and exposure time tends to be short.

So I think a closed printer with a filter inside the case should reduce toxic materials enough to be non dangerous inside a home. If you plan a whole printfarm in your house, things might change though.

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Hi just a big big big warning for ABS , HIPS and ASA. I did end up in hospital, As far as ABS is toxic is a common knowledge depends on the exposure, concentration and person( the age does not help), look a few of the professional safety requirements and warnings for plastic manufacturing. I check lately there are quite a few chemicals not in high concentration, but it builds up

My story : Got the printer second week of May and installed it in my workshop which is well insulated and almost air tide 50sqm used as a office space mostly. It is winter here so do not open too much and work for hours. After 1 week of ABS and ASA printing probably around 60+ Hours, some overnight prints got dizziness, nausea, falling down, and serious problems which send me for full emergency checks in the hospital (MRI , CT , and … bunch of other tests) At the time did not connected the dots , as i had to stop working, may be just for a short period stopped printing but was not staying for long periods around and more was in bed. Doctors was suggesting inner year or vertigo. All the tests came back normal, so was send back home from the hospital. with improvement. The next few weeks was mostly outside walk and i did more PLA , ABS, PETG printing, but was not in the workshop . June i was doing more PLA
Couple of weeks ago Mid July I got new fillaments of ABS, and HIPS and started 3d printing only ABS and HIPS , but in the mean time started working again for me that is spending lots of time in the workshop while printing. On the 3d day got dizziness back and on 4th started vomiting and went to bed followed by doctor appointment and the doctor was not sure of the cause. That was the first time clicked that may be related . After i got better went to the workshop, where another print was running and checked the air quality. We have a very good air filter and heater in the house which measures almost all air particles including has formaldehyde filter and HEPA13/14, Moved it to the workshop and turned it on, for my surprise showed over 260ppm got to around 300 at first ( the red zone finishes at 100ppm) in the house shows me usually 1-2ppm rarely will go to 5ppm , it is considered unhealthy above 100ppm and good quality air is less than 10ppm.
As the printer was working just left the air filter does its job and reduced to a number but stayed in the red zone, until the printing finished , it went down to 1ppm and hour or so after the print finished. The machine has 24hour history

Since then i stopped printing and all my symptoms disappeared, not sure if that was the only reason but definitely was a trigger or made it worse. Today i installed a ventilation on top of the printer in the area where i print , everything outside . Will see in my next ABS print, but not in a hurry to restart. I have another 100hours scheduled parts but can wait for a bit

ppm == ug/m3

Some Links after the fact i did a research:

3D Printer Fumes: Are They Dangerous to Your Health?.
Evaluation of formaldehyde, particulate matters 2.5 and 10 emitted to a 3D printing workspace based on ventilation | Scientific Reports
https://www.tapplastics.com/image/pdf/MSDS%20ABS.pdf

formaldehyde, Styrene, and others are considered not to be toxic or dangerous under normal processing conditions which includes filtration , ventilation and etc and low enough concentration
Note in air tide room the materials/fumes PM/VOC builds up. and the carbon filter of X1C is not enough

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Damn man. Thanks for sharing that. Hope you are okay now. This is exactly why I do not print ABS, ASA… even though some people are taking this matter so lightly… as if they do not care at all.

Also, very much related (it is about toxicity of Bambus PETG-CF): PETG-CF and health concerns

We need more stories like this and things that happened to people. Please, do not hide if you have health issues due to printing. This area is so under investigated. I think only community can help each other by telling what happened or how you feel. I have expressed my concerns regarding PETG-CF in above link. You see no health related warnings from manufacturers regarding any filament but ABS and ASA. As if everything else is safe to print. But I am sure it is not like that.

I am wondering about legality of whole matter. Usually, states control dangerous chemicals, objects,… so that people do not end up sick or dead. Especially when it comes to buying freely available commercial products. Here, we see companies selling obviously dangerous materials that can put you in hospital, but it is completely unregulated - they do not even have to put a warning label on it. I am almost certain that there will be cases of people suing these companies for selling dangerous stuff without warnings. It is just a matter of time.

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@Thrawn i was not freaking out and that is why ended up in hospital read my post , well probably a small ventilation was going to be enough which i did now, but no warning and hundreds of hours printing in the same room which i spend 10-12 hours a day
Almost all materials used in 3d printing are cancerogenic in higher concentration and long exposure .

@djeZo888 thanks i am ok now and i do not think that would have been a problem if i had ventilation , but no warning on the material , no warning on on the printer and hundreds of opinion that should be safe " Under normal processing environment :smiling_face_with_tear: )
I still prefer ASA and ABS+ over PLA and PETG as getting better results just a warning would have been enough
Yes agree there should be a warning , i would not underestimate PLA and PETG if small air-tide room in the winter when every door and window is shut, and Some people are more sensitive to others to formaldehyde which is only half of ABS .

For ABS we know what happens because it causes acute health effects. But other filaments, especially claimed-to-be-very-safe PLA and PETG… perhaps these can cause chronic health effects - something we will experience years after printing. We just dont know yet. And when we do, warning labels will be all over the place. Just like with cigarettes - at the beginning people smoked even in hospitals and it was okay.

It is a shame that not much is being done regarding this matter. Yes yes, there are filtration systems, like Bambus carbon filter, and there is nevermore, and you have bentobox. But lack of information is what bothers me and level of engineering. Are these filters effective enough? Bambu has only carbon filter, what about hepa? And these filtration systems are engineered with beginners level - just a box and a fan, things aren’t airtight, when printing certain materials, you need to open the lid or door, because vent is not strong enough and thus render filtration useless. There is so much effort put into quality of prints and speed - using latests technologies, materials… but when we talk about our health (which in 10, 20 years may turn that we all end up with lung cancer, even if just printing PLA), all we get are sloppy solutions. At least, what manufacturers of printers could already offer us was properly vented air tight printer with filtration on the level of professional soldering fumes extractor. Yes, it means it’d cost more (I have no problem with that), but they don’t put much effort even to make it possible so you can plug such filtration system (read: not airtight, no easy way to connect with).