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IT are staff exposed to workplace emissions

Robert Dunt


Robert Dunt

IT staff may be more vulnerable than other office workers to allergies brought on by computer emissions.

New research by Swedish scientists has shown that the VDU gives off chemicals which are known to cause a variety of symptoms such as blocked noses, headaches and skin problems.

The study, which is reported in Environmental Science and Technology, suggests that the cause of these illnesses is often the flame retardant chemical triphenyl phosphate used in computer casings and which has a documented allergy effect.

The problems are caused as the computer heats up and the chemical evaporates. In tests, levels of the chemical are highest the first few times the computer is switched on but still remain high after 150 hours - the equivalent of two office years.

Professor Vyvyan Howard, a toxico-pharmacologist at Liverpool University confirmed that IT staff were a high risk category.

"If you're working in a room with 40 computers and in a confined space then you would be more vulnerable, seeing that the company would be trying to keep its computers up to scratch by buying new models."

Howard, who has studied similar flame retardants, said that women should be particularly aware of the problems as the chemicals are stored in the body and can be passed on to a child through babies milk.

He added, "The best advice to people is to use new computers in a well ventilated area."


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