July 19

Health Hazards of Storing Old Computers

For something that millions upon millions of people use every single day, it’s hard to imagine that computers could become a health risk. The fact of the matter is, however, that over time, the components inside a computer can become a serious health hazard as they wear down.

With concerns about sensitive company data being leaked and all the environmental compliance laws with harsh penalties about the disposal of computers, many companies have taken to storing old computers away in unused storage areas until they can figure out how to handle the equipment.

Unfortunately, figuring out what to do with the machines could take time, years in fact. This is when the computers can become a hazard; especially to maintenance crews who could be going in and out of these storage areas daily.

The team at MaintenancePro, a customized insurance program for the facility cleaning and maintenance service industries, knows the risk involved with storing old electronics and the health problems that may stem from being around them:

The dangers of discarded, old computers stem from what’s inside them. Your typical piece of electronic equipment — especially one like a PC with many circuit boards — may contain up to 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) of lead, along with lower levels of mercury, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium and other toxic chemicals. These elements are all toxic at varying exposure levels. There is also a fairly poisonous family of flame-retardant chemicals used in most electronics.

Many of the aforementioned hazardous chemicals and toxic substances are known to cause health problems — and in some cases death — when exposure occurs in large doses.

Jessika Toothman – http://computer.howstuffworks.com/

The best case scenario in mitigating these risks would be to get rid of the equipment to keep the maintenance staff safe and healthy. However, seeing as how the reason why the equipment is being stored away in the first place is because the company doesn’t know how to handle disposing of it, the safest bet would typically be to steer clear of the room the computers are stored in and keep the room sealed off if possible.

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