Toxins in your PC?


What’s really inside of your PC?

You already know that inside of your computer is a hard drive, RAM, a processor, a motherboard, and so on, but did you know what else was in there? Did you know there are materials and substances like arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead?

While these materials do not post any health threat as they are used in computer and electronic equipment, they are harmful after they enter the environment when computers and e-waste are disposed of in landfills or are not properly recycled.

Click on the material name for more details. Percentages represent the content level of the substance in the average computer system weighting 60lbs.

Lead

Percentage: 10%

Found In:

The highest concentration of lead in computers is found in the glass of monitors and televisions, but lead is also used in solder found on circuit boards.

Health Issues

Affects almost every organ and system, but the most sensitive are the central nervous system, reproductive system, and kidneys.

Mercury

Percentage: 0.01%

Found In:

Mercury is found in batteries, on printed circuit boards, and in switches. Flat panel LCD screens also contain mercury.

Health Issues:

Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of mercury, which causes damage to the central nervous system and can cause permanent brain damage with long-term exposure. Mercury also damages the kidneys and in vapor form Mercury can also effect the lungs and cause high blood pressure and heart rates.

Cadmium

Percentage: 0.01%

Found In:

Cadmium is found in the phosphor coating on CRT screens, on printed circuit boards and in batteries.

Health Issues

Breathing Cadmium causes sever lung damage while ingesting Cadmium irritates the stomach. Long-term exposure causes kidney damage.

Plastics / PVC

Percentage: 23%

Found in:

Plastics are use din nearly every part of a computer, including the casing, circuit boards, drives, monitors, wiring, etc. Polyvinyl Chlorides (PVC) are used to manufacture various types of plastics.

Health Issues:

PVC causes permanent liver damage and can lead to liver cancer. Nerve damage, immune reactions, skin irritation and blood flow problems are also common systems of exposure to PVC, as is liver cancer. Studies have found that PVC causes birth defects in animals.

Brominated Flame Retardants

Found In:

Brominated flame retardants are used as additive to plastics to reduce flammability, particularly on printed circuit boards, cable and wiring insulation, plastic covers and in connectors. Brominated flame retardants include chemicals such as polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDE) and polybrominated bipheyls (PBB).

Health Issues:

Exposure to PBBs are believed to cause everything from skin problems to abdominal and joint pain. PBDE is through to have effects on the thyroid and liver as well as the nervous and immune systems. Most of the effects of PBB and PBDE are not fully known, but the EPA and Department of Health and Human Services have classified these chemicals as likely carcinogens.

Arsenic

Percentage: 0.002%

Found In:

Printed circuit boards and transistors often contain arsenic.

Health Issues

Low levels of exposure to arsenic causes changes in heart rhythm, blood cell production, and damages blood vessels. Breathing arsenic effects the lungs and can cause skin problems. A high amount of exposure to arsenic causes death. Arsenic exposure also increases chances of lung, skin, kidney, bladder, prostate and liver cancer.

Beryllium

Percentage: 0.02%

Found In:

Beryllium is used to increase the thermal conductivity of printed circuit boards and connectors.

Health Issues

Beryllium exposure can lead to either acute or chronic beryllium disease. Acute beryllium disease has symptoms similar to pneumonia while the chronic form causes difficulty breathing, exhaustion, weight loss and heart disease. Long-term exposure can cause lung cancer.

Hexavalent Chromium

Percentage: 0.01%

Found In:

Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium VI) is used to decorate and harden steel and other metals.

Health Issues

Chromium VI causes damage to the kidneys, stomach and liver and can cause lung cancer.

Barium

Percentage: 0.04%

Found in:

Barium is used in the vacuum tubes of computer monitors and televisions

Health Issues

High levels of barium exposure causes increased blood pressure and damages the brain, liver, kidneys, spleen, stomach, and heart.