Apple’s new MacBook Pro 15″ laptops replace LCD with new mercury-free LED backlit monitor.
Apple begins their transition to using LED (Light-emitting diode) instead of LCD screens. Today most LCD screens are lit with a type of fluorescent bulb (called cold cathode fluorescent backlights) that contains mercury. LED bulbs don’t contain mercury, and also provide a more even light. The LED backlit screens are also more energy efficient and is reported to increase the battery-life by an extra 30-60 minutes over older models. IPods currently use this technology and Apple has revealed their plan to have these LED monitors replace all their LCD monitors eventually. However, at the present time larger screens are more expensive and problematic to manufacture so we may have to wait awhile, currently only the newest 15″ MacBook Pro model has the LED offering, the 17″ model still has the conventional LCD screen.
There has been increased concern recently over mercury in landfills from LCD screens and the many other mercury containing products such as fluorescent lights, batteries, electrical switches, barometers, thermometers, some toys with lights and older latex paints. The mercury in our landfills have the potential to evaporate into the air or leach into the groundwater. After mercury is buried in the landfill, it can be converted by the landfill bacteria into a more toxic form, called organic or methylated mercury. This mercury can be a potent neurotoxin that can affect the brain, liver and kidneys, and cause developmental disorders in children. Young children and developing fetuses are especially at risk.
There are many other toxic substances left to worry about inside our computers; lead, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium to name a few. Increasing public concern and awareness over toxic materials from computer e-waste ending up in landfills and the resulting health and ecological risks are prompting many computer manufacturers to rethink the importance of making their computers more earth friendly. Apple will hopefully take the lead in this endeavor.
(more landfill and mercury information)