Greener Gadgets. The Bad Stuff:What Does It Mean?

greenTomorrow morning, we are headed to the first Green Gadgets Conference here in New York. The topic at hand will be the greening of the consumer electronics industry. Gearing up for the show, we took it upon ourselves to learn the basics of green tech. What have we learned? PVC isn’t a a cable channel and Silicon Power Supply doesn’t require plastic surgery. We began by looking at some of the slimy substances that manufacturers keep removing from their products. Here are some non-eco-friendly materials or the “bad stuff” so to speak. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) According to the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice in New York City, PVC is a poisonous plastic that releases chemicals that can cause cancer and birth defects. It releases mercury, dioxins, and phthalates over time that can harm not only to humans but the environment as well. It can best be identified by its distinct odor, the “new car smell.” According to CHEJ, the smell of a new shower curtain or a new car is the smell of vinyl and the PVC’s poisonous chemicals “off-gassing.” Brominated Flame Retardant (BFR) Brominated flame retardants are commonly used to prevent common household objects, like clothing and electronics, from catching fire. In other words, if you’re tinkering with your computer motherboard and it starts burning, the brominated flame retardant, or BFR for short, is what’s going to contain the fire. Unfortunately, it also poses a health risk to us and our environment. Hexavalent Chromium In order for a product to receive approval by the EPEAT, it has to have minimal levels of this material. You may remember the term from Erin Brockovich, the movie and the real person, since it was found in drinking water. This poisonous compound has been found in paints, inks, and plastics. Minimal amounts are found in our gadgets. Canon has made a concerted effort to knock it out of their lenses.

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