Can a TV Give Off Toxic Fumes?
By William McCoy
Updated September 28, 2017
TVs do not typically release toxic fumes, but it's occasionally possible to smell an odor coming from your TV. These odors range from minor to serious and require varying levels of attention. When a TV is in proper working order, it is unlikely to release any odor that you are able to detect.
Over time, your TV accumulates dust on the outside and inside. While you might dust the outside of the TV, doing so will not remove the dust inside the unit. When the TV is in use for an extended period, its electronic components warm up. When warm, they can burn the dust and release an odor similar to the odor you smell when turning on an electric baseboard heater after it's been off for a long time.
The smell of burning dust inside a TV typically goes away within a short period, but to avoid this smell, remove the dust from inside your TV on a regular basis. Taking the TV apart is a time-consuming process that can also void your warranty, so use a can of compressed air to spray the dust out of the TV, just as you might do with a desktop computer.
If an electronic component of your TV short-circuits, it can release a noxious odor into the air that resembles a burning electronic smell. This odor is unhealthy to breathe in concentrated amounts, but a typical short-circuit does not release enough of the odor to be harmful. Upon detecting this situation, turn off the TV and unplug it from its power source. Open any windows in the room to allow the odor to dissipate and be replaced with fresh air.
If you are concerned in general about the emissions of your TV, it's important to know that while TVs emit some radiation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes the level of radiation is so low that it is impossible to measure. Modern-day TVs are so safe in terms of radiation emissions that viewers can sit as close to the screen as desired without any emission-related consequences.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.