Test: Carcinogenic substances in PC keyboards & Co



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Carcinogenic: Many technology products with massive pollution

Numerous technical products with which consumers come into contact every day contain dangerous pollutants, according to the results of a current study commissioned by the computer magazine "c’t". In laboratory tests of the plastic of keyboards, mice, earphones, so-called bumpers (cell phone protective cover) and USB cables, substances that are harmful to health have been found in many cases. Among other things, also short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCP), which are considered carcinogenic and which are actually prohibited in the EU.

The magazine sent a total of 28 technology products and some USB cables to the laboratory for examination, not least because the smell of the products in many cases already appeared suspicious. In particular, articles with which users have skin contact every day were the focus of the research. In the "laboratory analysis, we not only discovered carcinogenic substances, but also devices that shouldn't have been sold," reports the "c’t". The pollutant SCCP was found in four tested earphones, in two mice, a keyboard and two USB cables. Accordingly, almost a third of the products contained the substance, which is banned throughout Europe. The magazine cites “the included earphone cable of the Swees MP3 player” as a sad leader, in which 20,291 milligrams per kilogram of SCCP were detected.

Pollutants get into the organism when the skin comes into contact with technical products Many people have skin contact with the examined technical products every day, which is particularly critical for the contaminants it contains, since these are not only absorbed through the skin, but sweat also promotes the removal of harmful chemicals, reports the computer magazine . Plasticizers, PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and other pollutants contained in plastic products get into the human organism and can cause considerable consequential damage. However, manufacturers are now apparently sensitized to PAK. According to the "c’t", a significantly higher PAH concentration was found in only one of the 28 test products (530 milligrams per kilogram of PAH were found in the rubber feet of the "Good Companions" keyboard). However, the magazine also included four other keyboards, three mice, two USB cables and three PAK earphones. But only from the coming year will a concentration of certain PAHs of a maximum of one milligram per kilogram be prescribed for products with which people usually come into contact with the skin.

According to the "c’t", the laboratory tests also found "the highly toxic industrial chemical phenol" in the iProtect iPhone 5C protective cover. The concentration was 104 milligrams per kilogram. In addition, plasticizers were detected in eleven of the 28 technical products. Overall, the results of the laboratory tests of the "c’t" magazine suggest that the manufacturers of the technical products have so far been insufficiently careful not to use any substances that are hazardous to health in their products. Although this is imperative for items that consumers have skin contact with every day. It remains to be hoped that the current study will at least make some manufacturers more aware of the issue. For their part, however, users can only protect themselves insufficiently, since striking features (e.g. toxic smell) do not occur with all pollutants and the manufacturers do not provide any information on the chemicals they contain. For example, SCCP and phthalates (plasticizers) are completely odorless. (fp)

Image: Eklih Mmorf / pixelio.de

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