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Can printers trigger asthma?

May 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
There are many obvious sources that could trigger asthma. But the New England Journal of Medicine says the devices used to take credit card transactions might be a culprit as well.The machines in question print receipts on thermal paper covered with N-propyl-acrylamide and acrylate tints. Medical experts say those chemicals may trigger shortness of breath, wheezing and other symptoms of asthma.

The researchers focused on a non-smoking 62-year-old woman who sold lottery tickets in a kiosk in Madrid, Spain.

Her symptoms came within an hour of showing up for work, and after using a point of sale device with thermal paper. Her symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing disappeared on her days off. The woman has since resigned from the job that caused all the problems.

According to medical specialists the problem has global ramifications. "These machines are used everywhere, for example, to pay with credit cards in a restaurant or in any shopping center", said Dr. Joaquin Sastre, senior author of the study and a professor at Fundacio Jimenez Diaz Allergy Service in Madrid. Dr. Sastre added: "these terminals are used everywhere in the world."

The New England Journal of Medicine contributed to this report.

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