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Nanoco Calls to End Cadmium Exemption in EU

17 June 2016

Following a recent report from the Öko Institute calling for an extension of an exemption on cadmium use in quantum dots for televisions and displays, Nanoco Group PLC challenged the use and need of the toxic material in current and future products.

Cadmium is one of six toxic substances banned from use in Europe in electrical and electronic equipment by the European Union’s Restriction of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive—an initiative designed to protect human health and the environment. The RoHS Directive says cadmium is one of the most hazardous toxic heavy metals, giving it a maximum allowed level 10 times lower than mercury and lead.

However, despite the toxicity of the materials, the European Parliament voted to extend the use of toxic cadmium in televisions and other displays until July 2018. The Öko Institute’s report calls for the exemption to be extended past this date. Next, the European Commission, European Parliament and EU member states will evaluate the report before making any decisions.

Nanoco, a maker of cadmium-free quantum dots and other nano-technologies in liquid crystal displays (LCDs), says the use of cadmium is not necessary given alternatives are already in place that match the performance standards of cadmium in displays and TVs. Nanoco is calling on members of the EU government to uphold the RoHS Directive to end cadmium production and not grant an extension.

“To recommend a continuation of the use of cadmium under this Directive in light of these inconclusive findings is misguided, at best, and irresponsible, at worst,” says Michael Edelman, Nanoco CEO. “The reality is that innovative, high-performing and energy-efficient TVs and displays can and are being produced with cadmium-free quantum dots, making the need for any sort of cadmium exemption completely unnecessary.”

Specific Issues With the Öko Institute Report

Nanoco says the Öko Institute’s report fails to give clear data on the relative toxicity of cadmium versus cadmium-free materials, nor does it give a clear conclusion on the significant health hazards of cadmium.

As far as energy savings, the report ignores the effect of improving cadmium-free quantum dot performance, instead focusing only on the energy savings gained from using cadmium in quantum dots, Nanoco says. The company points to data showing that in commercial TVs using cadmium-free quantum dots, they have a lower energy consumption.

Finally, Nanoco casts doubt on the claims of higher color performance using cadmium displays and whether this is even an important aspect to consumers.

“Cadmium is an obsolete and hazardous technology that’s never taken off in the mainstream market,” Edelman says. “In fact, sales of TVs using cadmium-free quantum dots already exceed those using cadmium by 20 to one. So why extend the use of this highly regulated and toxic chemical when there are safe alternatives available today that deliver market-leading levels of color performance and energy efficiency?”

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@ihs.com

To contact the author of this article, email Peter.Brown@ieeeglobalspec.com


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