Electronic products (such as household appliances, entertainment electronics, telephones) are made of a variety of material components. When used in accordance with the instructions for use, our products do not present any risk to our health. The problem occurs when some of the hazardous substances in the products that are dangerous to human health in certain circumstances are released from the products and are taken from the environment in the human body.
This can happen in three main cases:
- during use: if the appliance is not used in accordance with the instructions of the user manual (e.g. subject to excessive heat or break even if the user manual indicates not to do so);
- during servicing: if the product is not serviced properly; and
- during waste management: if the waste is brought to nature or if the waste is handled inappropriately.
It is also important to know that these dangerous substances are used by manufacturers for a reason:
- for certain components (e.g. batteries) they have proven (or had proven in the previous period based on technological progress) to be the best solution, or
- for reaching some solutions or results (e.g. flame retardation), they have proven (or had proven in the previous period based on technological progress) to be the best solution.
As a result of scientific advances, over the last decades, several components have been shown to be detrimental to the human body. (For example, mention can be made of leaded gasoline.)
Therefore, legislators are constantly pushing manufacturers by regulations to stop or limit the use of these components in their products (as leaded gasoline has been also banned).
However, this has a technological condition: is there a different component according to the present state of technology that can adequately replace the previously used and hazardous component? Because it would not be a good idea to remove the hazardous flame-retardant material from the equipment, and at the same time risk that the appliance lights up, right? A good substitute component ensuring proper performance and security (which, in addition, can be achieved without significant cost increases), is a technical limiting factor that must be taken into account.
There is one more important thing you need to know, what Paracelsus, the famous 16th-century physician said first: “All things are poison … only the dose makes a thing not a poison.”
So do not be afraid when you hear that something is dangerous, but rather find out WHEN and IN WHAT QUANTITY it is a threat to us.