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safety in handling hardware

safety hardware metals health

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#1
eyor

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Hi, new to the forum and newbie-level in knowledge despite using Linux and having more than a decade of using computers. As in, I know as much as the average user, maybe, but nothing on hardware. So, sorry if this sounds like a stupid question.

I'd just found out that computers have toxic parts, and am just wondering:

I have some old laptops and parts (flash drives, hard drives, etc.). Are the levels of these metals in a few (2-3?) flash drives, laptops and hard drives high enough to be considered toxic? Anything else I should watch out for?

I want to store a bunch of old computers, laptops, flash drives and hard drives from old laptops until I get the time to sort them out to resell them, but I live in the tropics, and don't know how to store them properly. Should I be worried about heat? And I held and will hold internal parts (the internal hard drives taken out of old laptops) barehanded--is that okay? Or it's not dangerous unless they're broken up? Is there a difference between internal hard drives and the internal parts of flash drives?


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#2
Kemasa

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The main thing is to not throw the stuff in the trash. It is not an issue to have the items, just to have it properly disposed of.


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#3
eyor

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Okay, that's good. Thanks.

 

Additional:

 

I'm also thinking of making money off of them by, uh, trying art. I admit I'm not an artist, but I'm thinking of taking that up as a hobby (and yes, additional income source in case the reselling doesn't work). I know of someone who does something related with internal parts of old computers (we're not close), so I got the idea there.

So, anything I have to watch out for? Any precautions I have to take? Can, I, for instance, paint on or glue them (will the paint or glue affect anything? Which parts--the green board, the black chips, anything else my amateur mind hasn't picked up?)? Drill holes or cut them (anything--green board, black chips, etc.) via scissors/knife to make a picture frame, Christmas tree decor, or a keychain? If I make a keychain, for instance, will I have to watch what kind of material for the hook I should pick out? Is it dangerous if I use a hammer to dismantle a flash drive (I don't know how else to pry open the casing)? Can I do all of this barehanded?

About heat: my only storage option is prone to getting hot. I admit I am more worried about, say, the metal getting hot enough to release fumes and the like, than about whether the parts get too damaged to work properly. Would heat do that? edit.gif


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#4
Kemasa

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There are many types of glue and paint, so it is hard to say.

 

Drilling could end up with small pieces, although I am not sure of how much of an issue that might be. It all depends on where you drill and what materials were used in the item, which is hard to know.

 

Using a hammer could be dangerous, but I think mainly from flying pieces of plastic and other items. Safety glasses should be used.

 

I think that it would be unlikely to have the heat get high enough to cause a problem, unless you store it in a working oven.


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#5
eyor

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Okay, thanks.

 

What parts do you recommend I not drill (and cut, for that matter)? Can I drill or cut the black chips?

 

That's good to know about heat.

 

I'd also recently found out that moisture could be dangerous, that it could cause corrosion. Is it dangerous health-wise? Or its just the matter of the parts not being able to work?

 

Will storing parts in a place will lots of paper affect anything? Would there be any other material not a good to put the parts in with--say plastic, cloth, fake leather (I have old bags of those), among other things? What about if you just wrap the parts in typical plastic shopping bags?


Edited by eyor, 13 April 2014 - 03:48 PM.

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#6
Kemasa

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Well, depending on the age of the device, it could have lead in the solder, which could be an issue. That means drilling into anything which you don't know what it is made of could be an issue. How big of an issue is unknown unless you know what you are dealing with.

 

Moisture can cause mold, which can be a health issue, but that is not really related to electronics. It would damage the parts, but if you are not using them as an electronic device, it is not that much of an issue.

 

Typically electronic parts are stored in anti-static bags to protect them. If they are in a computer case, it is not as much of an issue due to all of the metal around it. If you are going to use the items for "art", then it does not matter if it will work in terms of electronics.


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#7
eyor

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My stuff, at least the laptops, date to I think the early 2000s. The flash drives are probably around that time too.


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#8
Kemasa

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Most likely it would have lead in the solder.


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#9
eyor

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Lead in the solder? Uh, sorry to ask this, but what does that mean? Any safe way to handle that? What about storage, then (I was planning on storing them for a while anyway, before I start working on the junk art.)? Are you talking about the internal hard drives, laptops or flash drives?


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#10
Kemasa

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Solder is how the parts on the board are connected electrically. It is not a problem unless you go drilling into it and making small bits of it.


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#11
eyor

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Oh. Okay. What else can I do if I can't drill? How about cutting via scissors or knife? Won't that create bits too, or the amount that can create won't be a health hazard unlike with drilling? I'd heard that flash drives and internal hard drives are made of different materials--will, say, flash drives be safer to drill or cut?


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#12
Kemasa

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Unless you know what materials you are working with, you could create issues. If you just took the case off of a flash drive, which is plastic, it should be fine. But to cut, drill or modify the materials without knowing what you are dealing with could create hazardous materials.


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