Consumer News

Smartphones, Laptops, TVs Found Releasing Potentially Harmful Chemicals

Your smartphone, TV and computer may be exposing you and your family to potentially harmful chemicals around your house. Researchers found screens commonly found at home release chemicals that mix with household dust and can be inhaled. 

The new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlights the effects of liquid crystal monomers found in tech displays and even solar panels. Researchers said the chemical has negative effects on both humans and the environment.

"These chemicals are semi-liquid and can get into the environment at any time during manufacturing and recycling, and they are vaporized during burning,” John Giesy, lead researcher and an environmental toxicologist at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), said in a statement. “Now we also know that these chemicals are being released by products just by using them.”

Researchers analyzed 362 commonly used liquid crystal monomers from 10 different industries. The team looked into how each chemical becomes toxic. 

Results showed that monomers from smartphones are more likely to be hazardous to animals and the environment. 

The chemical has been linked to problems to digest nutrients and disrupted functions of the gallbladder and thyroid in animal studies. These effects are similar to exposure to dioxins and flame retardants found in other common household materials. 

Researchers said 90 percent of all monomers tested contained concerning chemical properties. They could accumulate in organisms, resist degradation in the environment or can travel long distances in the atmosphere. 

In the study, the monomers were present in different areas of buildings, including a canteen, student dormitory, teaching building, hotel, personal residence, lab and electronics repair facility. 

"There are currently no standards for quantifying these chemicals, and no regulatory standards," Giesy added. "We are at ground zero."

In 2018, China, Japan and South Korea produced nearly 200 million square meters of liquid crystal display (LCD). That could cover the entire Caribbean island of Aruba.

According to Giesy, manufacturing LCDs at such rate could put more potentially harmful monomers into the environment. However, he noted they have yet to determine how the chemicals are directly affecting the health of people. 

Laptop Researchers warned that liquid crystal monomers found in tech displays and solar panels may have negative effects on both human health and the environment. Pixabay