Environmental Impacts – CompTIA A+ 220-1002 – 4.5

It’s important to properly dispose of technology components. In this video, you’ll learn about material safety data sheets, room controls, protection from dust and debris, and more.

<< Previous Video: Managing Electrostatic Discharge Next: Privacy, Licensing, and Policies >>

As an IT professional, you may be responsible for disposing of computer equipment, but it may be difficult to keep track of exactly how and where you should dispose of it. Fortunately, there’s documentation available in the material safety data sheets, or MSDS. These safety sheets are provided with every component. And if you don’t have the original safety sheets, you can usually download them from the manufacturer’s website.

In the United States, these safety data sheets are mandated by the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. You can find out more on their website at www.osha.gov. The MSDS will tell you everything you need to know about the component. So if you’re trying to dispose of batteries, display devices, solvents, toner, or anything else, you’ll find the instructions are in the MSDS.

You might also hear the material safety data sheet abbreviated as an SDS, and the name of this sheet may change depending on what country you’re in. Here’s some of the detailed information you’ll get from an MSDS. You’ll get the product name and the company that manufactured the product. You’ll understand the composition and the ingredients inside of the product.

You’ll get a breakdown of the hazard information so you know how this will affect a human if it happens to come in contact with this device. You’ll have first aid measures, firefighting measures, information about accidental release or leaking that may occur with this device, how you would handle it, how you would store it. And there’s many more details contained on the MSDS.

The electronic devices we use in technology expect to run at a particular temperature level. And the manufacturer’s documentation will tell you what those particular ranges are. It should also give you information on an expected humidity level for this device. High humidity means you’re going to have condensation on these devices which, of course, is very bad for an electronic device. And low humidity level means there’s going to be static discharges.

Ideally, you need a number that’s in between those two. And although 50% tends to be a good number for humidity, it can be difficult to maintain that in a cooled environment. Our servers, routers, switches, and other components are constantly creating heat, and it’s important that we’re able to cool those. For that reason, you don’t want to put all of this equipment into a closet that’s not ventilated. You want to be sure there’s some way to get the hot air out of that area and get cool air in to keep those systems at the proper temperature.

We can’t control the power that’s coming into our systems, but we can control what we can do if we happen to lose that power source. You want to have an uninterrupted power supply, or a UPS, that will provide you with backup power if you lose the primary power source. The UPS is also very good for protecting against brownouts, where you have a lowering of the voltage available, or power surges where there is a spike of voltage.

Depending on the needs and budget, you may have one of three different kinds of UPS. One of the most inexpensive is the standby UPS, which will switch over to battery if it loses the primary power source. You might also want to get one that provides a stepping up of power.

If you happen to start losing power in a brownout situation, those would be a line-interactive UPS. And an on-line UPS tends to be the more expensive of these three where you’re always connected to the battery side and there’s no switching process if you happen to lose main power.

Besides the environmental control, you also have other features available on a UPS. For example, the UPS can tell your computer that there’s no longer any main power and it should go through its normal shutdown process. You also have options for other types of battery capacities and outlets on the back of the UPS. And you might also have the option to plug in a phone line or a network connection to suppress any voltages going over those connections.

Ideally, we would like to have a single voltage of power coming into our facility with no spikes coming through. But occasionally, there can be external sources, such as storms or power grid changes, that can cause a spike of power to come through our main power connection. To be able to minimize these spikes, we can use a surge suppressor. It will take the spike of voltage coming through and put any excess power on to the electrical ground.

These suppressors are also good at removing noise from the electrical line, and they’re measured in decibels. The higher the decibel, the better the filtering. The amount of surge that can be absorbed by a surge protector is measured in joules. The larger number the joules, the larger amount of surge suppression.

If you want to get a good surge suppressor, you’re usually looking for one that has over 600 joules of protection. You also want to get a surge suppressor that can handle the amount of amperage that’s being put through that particular unit, and the higher number is going to be the better unit.

There is also a set of categories from Underwriters Laboratories. UL 1449 will categorize voltage let-through ratings, which show how much of the voltage gets through the suppressor. And the different categories are around 500, 400, and 330 volts where the lower amount of voltage is the better surge suppressor.

If you have computing equipment that’s on a manufacturing floor, you may need to protect it from smoke, particles, and other things that may be in the air from that manufacturing facility. In those cases, you may want to get an enclosure that will protect that component from any of those airborne particles.

You also want to protect yourself from those airborne particles so you may want to use an air filter or a mask. This can be especially useful if you’re working inside a laser printer where there may be toner and all of that toner dust gets into the air. This mask will prevent you from inhaling any of those toner particles.

If you’re cleaning the outside of a printer or some other computer, you want to use some type of cleaner that has a neutral detergent. You don’t want to use anything that may have ammonia inside of it, for example. And although isopropyl alcohol is very good at cleaning connectors, you don’t want to use it on the outside of your computer cases.

The process of vacuuming up toner or dust can create electrostatic discharge, so you want to be sure to use a vacuum that’s been specially designed for computing environment and minimizes the amount of static electricity. And you may run into a situation where you need to blow dust out of a computer. And instead of using compressed air in a can, you may want to use the more environmentally friendly compressed air pump.

Your local, state, and federal government will also have requirements as to what you must do to be able to protect the environment when working with these high-tech components. You’re going to have hazardous waste from batteries, toner, other computer components, and you need to be sure that you dispose of them properly. There may also be requirements for how you dispose of paper. So make sure you check your local requirements and you know that you’re disposing of all of these components safely.