Washington, July 11 : A recent study has found nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), a chemical which is found in the LCD panels of several electronic devices, to have a global climate impact 17,000 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2).
According to a report in ENN (Environmental News Network), NF3 is found in the LCD panels of cell phones, televisions, and computer monitors, as well as in semiconductors and synthetic diamonds.
The chemical is not one of the greenhouse gases monitored by the Kyoto Protocol, due to the fact that LCDs were not produced in significant quantities when it was drafted.
The chemical is found to stay in the atmosphere for 550 years and there is no force of nature known to remove it.
The study has found that this year, nitrogen trifluoride emissions are expected to have an impact equal to Austria's CO2 output.
Also, production of the chemical may double in 2009, with the study pointing to a number of NF3 manufacturing facilities opening up in the US, Korea, and China.
The production increase is due in part to the switch to digital television that will lead to increased LCD consumption and the disposal of older sets, some of them early LCD models.
LCD monitors have long been presented as environmentally friendly, particularly next to lead-laden, energy inefficient CRT models.
Though the use of mercury and arsenic has been of concern to the environmental and human health, LED-backlit display technology has begun to address these issues.
As far as the NF3 issue goes, it is cheaper for companies to create the chemical in a way that produces more emissions.
But, companies could engineer their products to emit less of the chemical, an appropriate response that would please green buyers.