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Electronic devices such as computers or laptops contains many toxic elements or compounds. While I'm sure for majority of them a care is taken so that they're not released into the environment of their users, I'm also sure that there are companies that simply don't care (unless forced by somebody).

I'd like to know if the risk of an electronic device releasing toxic compounds is higher when it's new or when it's old. As it gets older, most volatile elements that could have been released are already gone, however more compounds can be released from decaying parts of the device.

As a lay consumer, what steps can I take to prevent such a risk?

(I'm not sure if this SE site is the right place to ask, I found it closes to my question. If there's another, better suited for the question, please let me know. Feel free to add suitable tags.)

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China RoHS marks indicate how long it will take before potentially hazardous things can start 'leaking' out, so yes indeed, time plays a factor.

I think common sense will largely prevail when it comes to protecting yourself. Don't operate old equipment that smells bad or leaks liquid / gases, and safely recycle electronics you may have instead of dumping them in the trash / storing them in your attic/basement/garage/whatever.

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Newer devices may* comply with EU RoHS requirements, although this is mostly to do with removing lead from the solder.

The big difference is whether a device is "stored" in a dry place, in which case there's little to worry about, or "discarded" and allowed to get wet, at which point things can leach out.

Batteries should be removed for storage or disposal, have finite lifespans, and definitely decay into nasty things when they get old. Especially NiCads.

(*must if you're in the EU, same construction may be sold into other countries)

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