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Is HD’s Popularity Creating a Health Hazard?

The surge in HD and other flat-panel mass production to satisfy eager consumers may prove hazardous to one’s health, or so it would appear, according to researchers at the University of California.

In an article in New Scientist magazine (opens in new tab), environmental experts report that the production of Nitrogen Trifluoride (NF3) used in LCD panels (the most popular HD panel technology right now), as well as in smaller computer monitors, has reached 4,000 tons a year (or about equal to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of Austria).

NF3, say the scientists, is 17,000 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. And apparently NF3 isn’t going away anytime soon; when released into the air, it’s believed to have a half-life of more than five centuries. The article also points out, alarmingly, that if the gas is inhaled directly, it is toxic to human livers and kidneys.

NF3 is not covered by the Kyoto Protocol (which the United States never signed) because a decade ago when the protocol was achieved, NF3 was not a threat. The researchers urged that the potential hazards of NF3 should be covered in all future U.N. climate-change accords.