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CRT Monitors: Environmental and Health Risks

written by: Ahmed Ibrahim•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 2/12/2012

I discuss the health and environmental concerns caused by different display technologies. This one is about the CRT monitors.

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    The Many Hazards of CRT Monitors

    We all use a monitor. But have you ever thought that they are affecting you in a negative way and they may form a hazard to our health and the environment as well.

    The most common type of monitors used is the Cathode Ray Tube “CRT" which is a vacuum tube with an electron gun that emits electrons when heated and focuses them into a thin beam. A magnetic field is used to deflect the beam to hit the phosphorus coated screen, making it glow to produce the glowing characters you see.

    The first hazard to be avoided from using a CRT is the electromagnetic fields; Exposure to these fields affects the functioning of the living cells as these very low frequency (VLF) emissions were cited as a possible cause of chromosomal changes, disturbance of bone growth and heart rate, and alterations to genetic structure of the cells as stated by London Hazards Centre.

    Electromagnetic fields can be avoided by sitting away from the monitor by a distance of 85cm or further as radiation falls under the inverse square law which illustrates that a force is inversley proportional to the square of the distance from the source of the force.

    CRT Monitor Upon disposal of CRTs a much greater danger is to be avoided. Improper disposal of CRTs can lead to breaking of the glass envelope which is formed of leaded glass which is considered a toxic compound and forms a great hazard to the environment. Moreover, barium compounds are considered a great health concern as it is a water soluble compound which if taken in a great dose can cause cardiac irregularities, damages to the nervous system, anxiety and even paralysis.

    Not to mention the large size and weight, delay time it takes to heat the electrodes when it starts but also CRTs are considered the most power consuming display among the different display technologies available nowadays.