IDTechEx tracks new toxins in electronics, highlight alternatives

March 08, 2018 // By Julien Happich
IDTechEx tracks new toxins in electronics, highlight alternatives
According to analysts at market research firm IDTechEx, there is a flood of new electronic and electrical devices reintroducing toxins very similar to those in tobacco smoke, diesel fumes, asbestos and other killers. Some of these devices will sell in up to billions yearly but there has been no tracking of the big picture of imminent toxic threat from the balance of virulence, morphology and likely prevalence of these toxins.

Something only moderately toxic is a threat if it is widely deployed in millions yearly and has uncontrolled disposal, warn the analysts. IDTechEx focuses more particularly on nanoparticles which are more reactive and penetrating and which researchers suspect can magnify the toxicity of others toxins.

IDTechEx' report “Toxic Materials and Alternatives in Electronics/ Electrics 2018-2028” looks at all of this, sharing a timeline of planned introduction of “toxins of concern” into electronics and electrics over the 2018-2028 period, taking into account those deployed today and those being researched in new devices. 
The report also points to alternatives and research leading to alternatives that are receiving insufficient attention and funding. It recommends dates for banning certain materials based on its analysis and a close watch on others but in a measured way taking into account the risks and needs of all in the value chain – manufacture, use, abuse and disposal.

For example, the report proposes when two carcinogenic device chemistries should be banned given that alternatives are commercially successful. It argues that the threat will continue for 30 years without action. These materials are variously associated with birth defects, lethal HCN when burnt or ingested or cumulative multiple pathologies in humans.  

“Toxic cadmium has been reintroduced into daily life as quantum dots in displays and huge sales of cadmium telluride photovoltaics. Cadmium in displays will be banned in Europe from 2019 but not worldwide yet the alternative is lead-based quantum dots. Toxic lead is also reappearing this year in the first commercialisation of perovskite windows generating electricity and new piezoelectrics, probably safely. Some researchers are preparing devices with cadmium, lead, arsenic and a host of organic and inorganic toxins but commendably others race to replace lead in the new perovskite photovoltaics and other toxic elements in skutterudite thermoelectrics for example" worries Raghu Das CEO of IDTechEx.

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