Computers and peripherals contain materials that can be harmful to the environment. Hazardous materials are sometimes called toxic waste. These materials can contain high concentrations of heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, or mercury. The regulations for the disposal of hazardous materials vary by state or country. Contact the local recycling or waste removal authorities in your community for information about disposal procedures and services.

A Material Safety and Data Sheet (MSDS) is a fact sheet that summarizes information about material identification, including hazardous ingredients that can affect personal health, fire hazards, and first-aid requirements. The MSDS contains chemical reactivity and incompatibility information. It also includes protective measures for the safe handling and storage of materials and spill, leak, and disposal procedures.

To determine if a material is classified as hazardous, consult the manufacturer’s MSDS. In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all hazardous materials be accompanied by an MSDS when transferred to a new owner. The MSDS information included with products purchased for computer repairs or maintenance can be relevant to computer technicians. OSHA also requires that employees be informed about the materials that they are working with and be provided with material safety information.

NOTE: The MSDS is valuable in determining how to dispose of potentially hazardous materials in the safest manner. Always check local regulations concerning acceptable disposal methods before disposing of any electronic equipment.

The MSDS contains valuable information:

In the European Union, the regulation Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) came into effect on June 1, 2007, replacing various directives and regulations with a single system.