Environmental Impacts – CompTIA A+ 220-1102 – 4.5

IT professionals often have to manage and protect against hazardous waste and environmental challenges. In this video, you’ll learn about Material Safety Data Sheets, battery disposal, toner cartridge recycling, and power management options.

There may be times when we need to have a better understanding of how to properly dispose of a particular component. One way to find this information is by referring to the material safety data sheet, or MSDS. This is documentation that is required by OSHA, or the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration. You can find out more information on their website at OSHA.gov.

In other parts of the world, you might also hear this referred to as a safety data sheet, or SDS. But it’s exactly the same type of information. This data sheet provides extensive documentation on how to properly dispose of these hazardous chemicals that can be found in devices such as batteries, display devices, toner cartridges, and others.

Here’s an example of a material safety data sheet from a standard capacity toner cartridge. And you can see there’s extensive documentation on this page, including product information, the composition and ingredients associated with this toner cartridge, and hazards associated with the toner cartridge, and different measures that can be taken for first aid. The batteries we use in our laptops and our UPS are good examples of hazardous waste that should be disposed of properly.

You can check your MSDS for more details. But these almost always would be sent to your local hazardous waste facility. That might also be the option for any toner cartridges, although many of the manufacturers of these toner cartridges do have a type of recycling program. So when you’re replacing a toner cartridge, there’s often a return label inside the box so that you can put the used cartridge inside, put the label right on the front, and ship the box out.

And if you have a component but you’re not quite sure how to dispose of that component, make sure you always reference the material safety data sheet. Another important concern is the temperature in the rooms where we have this equipment. Our computing devices are constantly creating heat. So it’s always a good idea to have them in an environment that has always been cooled.

We not only have to think about the temperature but we also have to consider the humidity. Very high humidity could create condensation, which would certainly cause problems with our electronic devices. But very low humidity encourages electrostatic discharge. There needs to be a good middle ground for preventing ESD, but also preventing any type of condensation. 50% humidity and lower is usually a good number.

And of course, we always have to be sure that we’re getting cool air to these devices all the time. So you should never put equipment inside of a closet that’s not ventilated and close the door. This will cause these devices to get very hot very quickly, and very possibly cause damage to those electronic components. If you work with servers or in a data center, then you’re probably already very familiar with a UPS or uninterruptible power supply.

This is a power source that is always available, even if you lose main power. There’s battery backups that will always provide power for your systems. There’s different types of UPS systems you may find that you’re using a standby UPS that is always connected to main power, and if that main power goes away, it will internally move itself over to the battery backup.

A line interactive UPS is always connected to main power but also has connectivity to the internal battery. That way if you lose the main power, it’s a much shorter time to be able to make the transition onto battery power. And as the name implies, an on line UPS is always connected to the battery. So if you do lose the main power, there’s no switching that takes place because you’re always connected to that internal battery connection.

If you’re purchasing a UPS, you might find many different features available between systems. For example, there might be an auto shutdown feature where the UPS can tell the computer to automatically shut down if there happens to be a power outage. There’s also options for battery capacity, the number of outlets that are on the back of the device, and a way that you could provide phone line or network suppression on the same device.

If you don’t have a need for uninterrupted power, then you might want to use a surge suppressor. A surge suppressor provides filtering against spikes or low voltage situations that might occur on your main power source. This might be caused by electrical storms or some change to the power grid external to your building. If there is a spike of voltage this search suppressor is responsible for recognizing that spike and taking any additional voltage and diverting it to ground.

And if there is noise on the electrical line, the surge suppressor will filter out that noise to give you the best possible power source. Not every surge suppressor is built the same. There are differences in how much voltage could be stopped during a spike, and those are rated as a number of joules. If you have a suppressor that is 200 joules of absorption, that’s pretty good. 400 is better. But ideally you should have at least 600 joules or better.

You also need to be sure that your suppressor can support the total number of amps that you’ll be using. So make sure that you use one that has a larger number rather than a smaller number of amps. And Underwriters Laboratories does tests on these suppressors to determine how much voltage could be let through this device during a spike. There are ratings at 500, 400, and 330 volts. And obviously the lower amount of voltage let through during a spike, the better.