Negative Effects of LCD Monitors

By Puriry Makandi

LCD monitors have pros and cons.
i lcd tv image by Eray Haciosmanoglu from

An LCD monitor is a thin, flat electronic visual display that utilizes light modulating properties of liquid crystals from an array of pixels, thus giving rise to the name "Liquid Crystal Display." LCD monitors are a fairly recent innovation but are now rapidly replacing older, bulky cathode ray tube (CRT) displays on computers and televisions. LCD monitor screens come in a variety of sizes and are environmentally friendly in the sense that they require less power, thus promoting energy conservation. While these monitors have their positive side, they also pose a danger to users.

Human Health

Electronic visual display equipment emits low levels of radiation. Although the LCD monitor emits lower levels than older cathode ray tube (CRT) designs, these low levels can negatively impact human health. Over-exposure to electromagnetic fields above two milligauss (mG) generated by electronic components inside a computer and radiation from LCD monitors can expose users to a variety of health maladies such as muscle ache, insomnia and fatigue. Prolonged exposure may also cause cancer in humans and animals. Burning eyes and headaches can result from increased luminescence or brightness of LCD displays. Radiation exposure above levels of 2 mG can cause skin burns and dry, wrinkled skin. LCDs also provide inconsistent photometric measures, depending on the angle at which a user is viewing the LCD monitor. This can contribute to improper body posture and back pains. Electricity consumed by LCD manufacture and use contributes to the release of so-called greenhouse gases (Co2) into the environment.

Environmental Impacts

LCD monitors consume less energy than CRT monitors but the accumulation of many millions of LCD monitors in use around the world consumes a tremendous amount of energy. In locations where electricity is derived from non-renewable sources, use of LCD monitors may contribute to solid waste generation such as sludge and coal by-products. In addition, discarded LCD monitors are considered hazardous material, as they contain toxic substances. For instance, the fluorescent lamp in a fluorescent-backlit LCD monitor contains mercury. If mercury is allowed to leech into water bodies, it converts to methylated mercury in sediments. This toxin can accumulate in living organisms via drinking water or crop irrigation and travel up the food chain, adversely affecting the developing brain of a fetus and damaging an adult's nervous system.

Other Impacts

The manufacture of LCD monitors requires sulfur hexafluoride, a chemical substance that is believed to be responsible for 29 percent of all global warming. The LCD manufacturing process also releases nitric oxides, hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid, which is responsible for acid rain. Some of the other LCD monitors also use hydro-fluorocarbons, which are know to cause depletion of the ozone layer.