Researchers at the University of York’s Department of Chemistry propose that instead of just tossing old LCD screens, we recycle them for medical purposes. Polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA), a component used as a coating on the glass surfaces of all LCD panels, can also (as it happens) help in the process of regrowing tissue and regenerating body parts. It could even be used to help target specific parts of the body for drug delivery in pills.
Because PVA elicits little response from human immune systems, it can, once it’s been recovered from the screens, be used in scaffolding to help rebuild tissue, and can also be put into pills or dressings. Recovering the PVA for medical purposes is also relatively simple, requiring only microwave-heated water and an ethanol wash.
It was estimated that over one million metric tons of PVA were used in electronics manufacturing in 2006 alone. While the compound is not an egregious pollutant, new and beneficial uses for old electronics–pending further research and safety testing–will offer alternatives to dumping them in the trash.