Hazardous substances in IT products — a human health and environmental risk

Hazardous substances used in IT products present a wide variety of human health and environmental risks. Throughout the life cycle, products may release dioxins, halogens and other toxicants, which can persist in the natural environment and the human body.

According to a global UN report dated in August 2018, covering all industries, one worker dies every 15 seconds because of exposure to hazardous substances. Hazardous substances lead to more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. People in low and middle income countries are being affected the most and represent nine out of ten casualties. We are facing an international health crisis that is in need of global action.

Hazardous cleaners and solvents are used in the process of manufacturing IT products. Toxic substances are also used in the products themselves. Both types of hazardous substances are problematic from a human health and also an environmental perspective, throughout the product life cycle. Workers may be exposed during manufacturing, and substances risk leaking out into the natural environment when products are incinerated, placed in landfill or recycled in an unsafe way.