Feeds

Toxic dust found lurking in tech kit

A 1970s legacy of death

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

A study conducted by environmental groups in the US has found yet another way our computers are trying to kill us.

The research found that dust on computer processors and monitors contains several chemicals that have been linked to neurological and reproductive disorders. The source? Brominated fire retardants, such as polybrominated diphenyl (PBDEs).

Researchers collected dust samples from computers in eight states, including university labs in New York, an interactive exhibit at a kiddie museum in Maine and the government offices in California.

PBDEs are one of three types of brominated flame retardants the resesarchers were testing for. Although PBDEs have been linked conclusively to neurological damange in rats, the effects on humans are less well documented.

When manufacturers first began using brominated flame retardants in the 1970s, it was widely believed that the chemicals could not escape the plastic. These finding suggest otherwise.

Ted Smith, director of the Toxics Coalition, said that the chemical indystry is "...subjecting us all to what amounts to chemical trespass by putting these substances into use in commerce. They continue to use their chemicals in ways that are affecting humans and other species."

Penta- and octa-brominated diphenyl will be taken off the US market by the end of 2004, and environmental groups are campaigning for a ban on deca-brominated diphenyl.

In the UK, we are taking steps in the right direction too. The European Directive on the restriction of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (ROHS) requires that from 1 July 2006, new electrical and electronic equipment will not contain lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls or polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

The directive is to be brought into force in the UK by 13 August this year, and will be reviewed by the European Commission before 13 February 2005 to take account of new scientific evidence.

According to other scientists, such as Dr. Gina Solomon, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, there is no need to panic. They say that although the levels of PBDEs are high enough to be worth talking about, they are unlikely to pose a serious threat to human health. ®

Related stories

Toxic PCs destroy life as we know it
PC disposal: recycle or build for durability?
Killer cyberloo kidnaps kiddie
Mobile phones safe report

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.