LCD Technology: Assassin in Disguise?

When Mrs Mehra went shopping last Sunday, she brought home a new addition to her family. This new addition with its jaw dropping Size zero profile is every guy’s desire . Besides winning hearts, this new addition also earned a nickname for itself . When called Lulu , she responds with a roar , displaying images by selectively filtering a white light . She serves her audience with unsurpassed picture quality and giving attention to detail . In addition , she is also known for exciting both the ear-drums unbiasedly .

Lulu belongs to the new brigade of ‘Liquid crystal display televisions’ threatening to increase the average temperature of the earth , thereby contributing to global warming . These ‘ Liquid crystal display ‘ televisions also known as LCD use NF3 as an etching fluid for its production. NF3 also known as nitrogen triflouride is a potent greenhouse gas which contributes 17,000 times more than carbon dioxide to global warming. Besides ‘ LCD’ , NF3 is also used in the production of computer circuits and solar cells . According to the New Scientist , the production of this chemical has reached to 4,000 tonnes a year which is equal to annual carbon dioxide emissions of Austria . With the LCD’s now being touted as a revolutionary invention and a must for a complete entertainment , the threat to the environment was never grave . Moreover , the marketing of the LCD with its sleek design , as a substitute for that picture- on- the -wall is only aggravating the threat . When released in the atmosphere , NF3 is believed to have a half-life of 550 years . Giving a cold shoulder to these threats , LCD’s are being portrayed as eco-friendly because they consume less power than their peers .

What is appalling is that , in spite of the gas being harmful to liver and kidneys and its potent greenhouse nature , it is not covered by the Kyoto Protocol . Kyoto Protocol is an environmental treaty for reducing the green-house gas emissions . It was signed in the year 1997 and is approved by 183 nations till date . When it was signed the threat of NF3 wasn’t that serious , therefore it was not included with the other greenhouse gases. Though the usage of NF3 , which replaced Per fluorocarbons, an extremely potent greenhouse gas was for purely environmental reasons, the effects of this successor cannot be overlooked. Also, In 2008, the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate change added NF3 to a list of gases that the Kyoto Protocol should regulate.

This rapid growth of the ‘LCD’ from luxury to necessity is quite alarming. Given the seductive nature of the LCD , reversing the spell on the prospective buyer requires a herculean effort . Besides, its ubiquitous presence in the living room , banning the production of LCD’s will cause widespread protests from both the consumers and producers. Perhaps what can be done to combat this threat is the use of lesser potent substitutes which are yet to be discovered by the scientific community. Installing emission control systems which captures the potent gas from escaping to the atmosphere can atleast lessen the threat. Also , by including NF3 with the other greenhouse gases in the Kyoto Protocol can stabilize its emissions and educate the consumer about this potent gas which is masked and processed into its most appealing form, LCD

Vijay Amalakara

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