Haz­ardous chem­i­cals in elec­tronic prod­ucts

Electronics For You - - EFY -

1. Lead can be found in sol­ders, al­though de­creas­ingly, in the glass of cath­ode ray tube (CRT) mon­i­tors and as a sta­biliser in PVC. It is highly toxic and ex­po­sure to lead can re­sult in ir­re­versible dam­age to the ner­vous sys­tem, par­tic­u­larly in chil­dren, which can lead to in­tel­lec­tual im­pair­ment.

2. Mer­cury, used in lighting de­vices for most flat-screen dis­plays, can dam­age the brain and cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing early de­vel­op­ment.

3. Cad­mium, used in recharge­able com­puter bat­ter­ies, con­tacts and switches and in older CRTs, can ac­cu­mu­late in the body over time and is highly toxic, pri­mar­ily af­fect­ing the kid­neys and bones. Cad­mium and its com­pounds are also known hu­man car­cino­gens.

4. Beryl­lium, used as a metal al­loy in elec­tri­cal con­tacts and as beryl­lium ox­ide in the semi­con­duc­tor in­dus­try, is a hu­man car­cino­gen and in­hala­tion of fumes and dusts can cause lung dis­ease.

5. Com­pounds of hex­ava­lent chromium, used in the pro­duc­tion of metal hous­ings, are highly toxic and hu­man car­cino­gens.

6. Some BFRs used in cir­cuit boards and plas­tic cas­ings do not break down eas­ily and can build up in the en­vi­ron­ment, and some BFRs are also highly bio-ac­cu­mu­la­tive (build up in the body). Long-term ex­po­sure to cer­tain poly­bromi­nated di­phyenylethers has been linked to ab­nor­mal brain de­vel­op­ment in an­i­mals, with pos­si­ble im­pacts on learn­ing, mem­ory and be­hav­iour. Some BFRs can also in­ter­fere with thy­roid and oe­stro­gen hor­mone sys­tems and ex­po­sure in the womb has been linked to be­havioural prob­lems. In­cin­er­a­tion or any kind of burn­ing of plas­tics con­tain­ing BFRs can cause the re­lease of per­sis­tent diox­ins and fu­rans.

7. PVC is a chlo­ri­nated plas­tic used in some elec­tron­ics prod­ucts, in­clud­ing for in­su­la­tion on wires and ca­bles. Al­though not di­rectly toxic, it is a ma­jor source of pol­lu­tion and chem­i­cal haz­ard at all stages of its life cy­cle. In its soft­ened form (as found in ca­bles), PVC re­quires the use of ad­di­tives such as haz­ardous ph­tha­lates, in­clud­ing di(2-ethyl­hexyl) ph­tha­late and di-n-butyl ph­tha­late, which are known as re­pro­duc­tive tox­ins. In­cin­er­a­tion or any kind of burn­ing of PVC can cause the re­lease of per­sis­tent and toxic chlo­ri­nated diox­ins and fu­rans.

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