Multi billion dollar new market
There is a flood of new electronic and electrical devices introducing toxins very similar to those in tobacco smoke and diesel fumes. Some will sell up to billions yearly. There is no tracking of what is arriving, assessing toxicity and likely prevalence. Uniquely, the new IDTechEx report, "Toxic Materials and Alternatives in Electronics/ Electrics 2018-2028" now does that. Coverage is wide ranging. Scan current and future devices and the toxins they will contain. Particularly it looks at use and abuse: there is also coverage of hazards of manufacture and disposal.
Nickel cadmium batteries were banned but toxic cadmium is reintroduced into daily life as huge sales of cadmium telluride photovoltaics on buildings and millions of quantum dot television sets. Peak lead acid battery occurs soon: the report says when. However, that toxic lead is reappearing this year in the first commercialisation of perovskite windows generating electricity, take off in sales of certain QLED TVs and in many new uses for lead zirconate titanate piezoelectrics. These are only a few examples for cadmium and lead and there are many more materials of concern, organic and inorganic appraised and tracked.
Time to pay attention. Indeed, the report describes many little known devices and research programs leading to alternatives and even many alternatives already on sale and gaining market share, sometimes aided by voluntary local bans on the toxic product. It recommends greater priority for these alternatives and a redirection of research funding.
This 170 page report has dense summaries and infograms revealing the breadth of adoption and planned adoption of physically and chemically toxic materials and particulates in electronics and electrical engineering. It even has a roadmap of introduction of toxins in electronics and electrics from 2018-2028.
The Executive Summary and Conclusions is comprehensive and sufficient in itself for those in a hurry. It identifies impending large sales and serious toxicity issues now and ahead from volume or virulence. Learn the lessons from the inadequate response to asbestos, tobacco and diesel in the past and in detail how most of those toxins and others are reappearing.
The report explains why toxicity measurements it lists are suspect. Moderate toxicity declared on mice when the substance of wrong morphology is administered in the wrong way for the wrong time and damage is measured after the wrong interval is no cause for humans to relax. 38 elements and compounds are tabled with toxicity, pathologies and devices where they are used or will be used and comments by suppliers.
The Introduction looks more closely at toxicity short lists and multiple modes of toxic action. Chapter 3 appraises materials being used in 37 families of emerging devices, 18 families of compound. It tables where they are and where they will be used in volume. The chemical elements of concern in overall electronics and electrics are compared. There are tables of inorganics, organics and where they will be used indicating levels of concern in the assessment of the authors. Allotropes of carbon are compared in likely popularity and issues. Lithium-ion batteries and quantum dots are singled out for closer analysis for reasons given.
Chapter 4 looks at the adoption of what are medically called surface irritants but are physically toxic materials that can often penetrate the human body and trigger changes leading to cancer and more. Although throughout the text there are alternatives given to the physical and chemical toxins appearing in or promised in electronic and electrical devices, Chapter 5 goes into depth on twelve other research programs of particular promise for toxin replacement in devices.