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J Hazard Mater. 2010 May 15;177(1-3):251-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2009.12.025. Epub 2009 Dec 11.

Human health and ecological toxicity potentials due to heavy metal content in waste electronic devices with flat panel displays.

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Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California, 2017 Kemper Hall, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Display devices such as cathode-ray tube (CRT) televisions and computer monitors are known to contain toxic substances and have consequently been banned from disposal in landfills in the State of California and elsewhere. New types of flat panel display (FPD) devices, millions of which are now purchased each year, also contain toxic substances, but have not previously been systematically studied and compared to assess the potential impact that could result from their ultimate disposal. In the current work, the focus is on the evaluation of end-of-life toxicity potential from the heavy metal content in select FPD devices with the intent to inform material selection and design-for-environment (DfE) decisions. Specifically, the metals antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, silver, vanadium, and zinc in plasma TVs, LCD (liquid crystal display) TVs, LCD computer monitors and laptop computers are considered. The human health and ecotoxicity potentials are evaluated through a life cycle assessment perspective by combining data on the respective heavy metal contents, the characterization factors in the U.S. EPA Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and other environmental Impacts (TRACI), and a pathway and impact model. Principal contributors to the toxicity potentials are lead, arsenic, copper, and mercury. Although the heavy metal content in newer flat panel display devices creates less human health toxicity potential than that in CRTs, for ecological toxicity, the new devices are worse, especially because of the mercury in LCD TVs and the copper in plasma TVs.

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