A 3-D printer is suspected in the deaths of a California couple and their pet cats. Berkeley police officers believe deadly gasses from a three-dimensional printer in a husband and wife’s home killed them on Monday.
Investigators say the 3-D printer deaths of Roger, 35, and Valerie Morash, 32, both graduates of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (or MIT), were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to CBS Local, a friend concerned about the California couple found them and their cats dead in a fourplex in the 300 block of Deakin. They were longtime residents of the apartment community.
Police arrived at the scene and found two adults and two felines unresponsive. The local power company and a Hazmat (Hazardous Materials) team were called out to help secure the team. The community was evacuated out of an abundance of caution.
Early indications didn’t provide a definitive death cause and evidence of foul play. Therefore, police listed the deaths “mysterious.” However, the bodies showed signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide from 3D printer kills couple. If true, whoa. https://t.co/yaOoGljYFs— John Hauer (@Get3DJohn) January 29, 2017
Later, police determined gasses emitted from a 3-D printer contributed to the deaths. Reports show that the couple had a three-dimensional printer connected in such a way that it vented inside the residence. As a result, toxic gas accumulated inside the dwelling and eventually killed its occupants.
According to the New York Daily News‘ report on the deaths in the California neighborhood, 3-D printers often give off odorless, colorless and tasteless gas from the lasers contacting plastic resin.
Experts at the University of Texas at Austin and the Illinois Institute of Technology have long held that 3-D printers are potentially deadly and should not be operated in a home setting. Often, users are not fully trained or educated about the proper use of the machinery.
Researchers pointed to a study to demonstrate the dangers of using three-dimensional printing, despite its growing popularity. The “Emissions of Ultrafine Particles and Volatile Organic Compounds from Commercially Available Desktop Three-Dimensional Printers with Multiple Filaments” probe showed how dangerous particulates (PLA and ABS fibers) propel harmful vapors and strands into the air, according to 3Ders.
In turn, when humans or animals inhale them, they can compromise the circulatory system by displacing oxygen. There is some indication that a 3-D printer can emit carcinogenic particles that are dangerous at high levels over a long period of time.
Scientists say the heat caused by the printer’s laser is the culprit. At this time, scientists are not 100 percent certain and have stopped short of the recommendation of a full ban on the novel printers.
They ran tests on a short list of printers in 2013. However, the group admits that many models exist and were not tested. As a consequence, more tests over a broader spectrum of devices are needed.
Nonetheless, scientists are confident in the data collected from the pool of tested 3-D printers and the results have been fairly consistent. They conclude that “thermal decomposition of thermoplastics has been shown to have toxic effects in animals, and exposure to UFPs from other sources has been linked to a variety of adverse human health effects.”
The worrisome study appears in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
A memorial ceremony was held on Friday for the man and woman found dead from exposure to the 3-D printer’s gas. People who knew the couple described them as ambitious and kind.
One of Roger’s co-workers described him and his wife as talented and educated. They met at the Institute, dated for a time and were later married.
“But they got up to do their thing every day and they were just the nicest people you’d ever meet.”
News spread rapidly about the Berkeley couple’s death from carbon monoxide gas poisoning. Soon thereafter, a GoFundMe account was set up to help with burial costs and travel expenses for family and friends to attend the funerals.
Experts advise the public to read the manual thoroughly before operating a 3-D printer and consider consulting with a professional to install the equipment safely in your home or office.
[Featured Image by CBS SF Bay Area]