Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Print And Be Damned

Is there no end to the ever-growing list of things that are "bad for you"? It seems not, and nothing is immune from scrutiny in the ongoing quest to unmask the latest "threat" to our health.

Obviously, the humble cigarette, not to mention the luckless smoker of same, has become a social leper at the hands - and propaganda - of the Health Fascists. But, unsated by this "glorious" victory, they have now set their sights on an even more insidious evil - nothing less than the common laser printer.

Now, in my not inconsiderable experience, laser printers - and, for that matter, all forms of information technology - can be cranky, capricious pieces of equipment, capable of inducing stress and frustration in even the most placid tech or office worker. But, apart from in fairly obvious and limited ways - such as dropping one on your toe - they've never struck me as being particularly hazardous to health.

Evidently, I was wrong, as a team of boffins from Australia have now discovered. It seems that a third of computer printers - and photocopiers - produce high concentrations of ultra-fine dust that can damage the lungs in much the same way as tobacco smoke.

I am outraged! Appalled! What is the government going to do about it, I want to know? Surely, it's time to rush through some emergency legislation? I know, how about this: ban all printing in enclosed public places, including offices and company cars, and force employers to pin up damn great "NO PRINTING ON THESE PREMISES" type signs! That should do it!

I fully expect all NHS Trusts to immediately implement a ban on printing anywhere on the premises, including in your own car on the car park, and remove any public printing shelters that they might have inadvertently set up. Staff will, henceforth, be seen nipping out to a side street off hospital grounds to print their letters, although I don't expect this to have any noticeable impact on appointment bookings, which are already shambolic to a degree beyond my ability to vilify.

Far fetched? I doubt it. Once the Health Fascists get hold of an idea, it won't be long before they're using it to exercise ever more control over our freedom of choice - for "our own good", of course. But it does beg the question: will they be using laser printers to push their half-baked ideas this time? And did the report's authors use one to print out their findings?

We deserve to be told!

Billy Seggars.

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