A group of researchers from Canada and China has discovered that liquid crystal monomers (LCMs) utilized in LCDs might potentially be persistent and bioaccumulative. In their paper printed in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe their survey on industry products that have LCMs and what they found.
Smartphone screens use liquid crystal displays (LCDs), and most such screens are made with what is called liquid crystal monomers—molecules that can react with different monomers to create polymer chains. However, as the group with this new effort observe, little analysis has been done to observe what occurs when LCMs make their way into the environment.
In this new paper, the researchers sought to learn more about the endurance and bio-accumulativeness of LCMs in the atmosphere. To that end, they studied 360 LCMs that are identified to be used in LCDs. They found that 87 could be steadfast and bio-accumulative—and went so far as to label them “persisting natural pollutants.” They noted that some LCDs persist for years and even decades. They suggest this represents a possible hazard if they get into the atmosphere, which might include the home or workplace. They note that prior analysis has proven that some of the LCMs that are utilized in LCDs could modify genes, leading to mutations.
The researchers further questioned the effects of LCMs on living creatures. To get an idea of the impact, they tore down used smartphones to arrive at the LCMs in the displays.