Hardrive toxic?

By GeekieNick101
Nov 8, 2006
  1. Hello Everyone,

    This may seem a little werid but is a harddrive toxic, when I throw away a hardrive first I always open it up and take a screw drivers up to the drive circle part but a friend told me it realeses toxic partiles in the air and it can kill me. Is this true? I dont see how, if so why isnt there a warning sticker on the hadrive I never saw one? Are hardrives really toxic? Please somebody respond I'm concerned I never knew that it can kill you by scratching a hardrive? Thanks veryone for reading

    Update, its the platter part, is the platter a hardrive contain toxic materials and if scratched with it release them? I thought this was a good idea to remove data but I guess I was wrong? Thank so much
  2. Grafficks

    Grafficks TS Rookie Posts: 302

    I think your friend is pulling your leg. If there are harmful contents (which I doubt), there would definately be a sticker warning you not to open it. Even if there were some toxins in the metals used at the manufacturing stage of the hard drive, the amount of it would be completely harmless to you.

    In addition, many people open their hard drives, either for amusement or out of curiosity. Computer hardware classes open hard drives to study the structure and learn how it works. So don't worry, you can destroy your hard drive any way you want. ;)
  3. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,573   +65

    Well, the circuity uses Pb (lead) many drives (although newer ones in the U.S. should be Pb free by now). Lead is a heavy metal and for that reason, is toxic to many forms of life.
    The substrate (platter) is comprised of alunimum or glass (typically), neither of which should be toxic.

    However, the substrate is covered in a ridiculously thin amount of metal alloy, which could potentially be toxic since alloys can certain contain elements such as arsenic. But this alloy is a manufacturer's 'special sauce' and very likely varies from model to model, manufacturer to manufacturer... I wouldn't expect it to be toxic, but then again.....
  4. GeekieNick101

    GeekieNick101 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 373

    Thank you guys, the last one I scratched was today and it was either an Acer or Maxter I think it was maxtor I cant remember also it was made by the lastest date of 1998 or newer, but I doubt it was from 1998 becuase it was 40 gig. But yes I know about lead but its still in solder not all anmore but what I mean is the platter and well the thing that scares me is my friend has about 29 years experience with electronics also about half an engineering degree to date. I never thought of it being toxic until they said something, I scratch them to basicly kill the data off them. I'm not dead yet. I never heard of a dealth from a harddrive. I would think if it contained anything toxic it should have a label there was the void warranty but yeah I feel if it can kill you and toxic the government would have thrown a fit and order them to place a label on it? Thank you so much
  5. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    You guys have way too much time on your hands :haha:
  6. GeekieNick101

    GeekieNick101 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 373

    How do I have too much time on my hands, I was just wondering if it was true or not because it seems out of the odd that a harddrive could kill you but then again stranger things can happen I dont know if it is true or not I think its insane a harddrive can kill you but then again I dont know look at all the other chemicals that they banned from electronics over the years that caused liver issues...
  7. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,573   +65

    I think it is a valid concern.

    If your friend knows it is toxic, you should ask him about the chemicals that could be involved. If he knows it is toxic, then he should also know why.

    However, I wouldn't depend on the government requiring labels for everything that is toxic. There's plenty of stuff out there which is harmful and is not labeled as such.

    For example, eating a reasonably sized albacore tuna steak exposes you to roughly 150-250% more mercury than the FDA weekly safety limit. But I can't ever recall seeing tuna fish with "May contain chemicals known by the FDA to cause permanent neurological damage, kidney failure, immuno deficiency and/or even death." More merdury info.

    This is also from the same administration did not prohibit drug companies from creating vaccines using mercury as a preservative - used for infants and toddlers. Some blame an increase in neurological and chromosomal diseases to mercury.

    Don't take me as a whacko conspiracy theorist.. LoL. Just wanted to give you an example of why you shouldn't assume anything WITHOUT a label is safe, although its a pretty good bet things WITH a label are not. :)
  8. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    Rule to remember:

    NEVER PUT A HARD DRIVE IN YOUR MOUTH OR TRY TO SWALLOW IT! Tums nor Rolaids will help your indejestion after eating a hard drive. Remember to wash your hands before and after eating... Come on guys, get a life... If you put a hard drive in your mouth you might find something nasty tasting, but that's all. If you do put a hard drive in your mouth, you need a rubber room
  9. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    There are cases where tums or rolaids could help prevent the absorbtion of lead, if lead is attached to something that will disolve in HCl adding an antacid can slow/prevent dissolving of whatever that was and releasing lead into your system.

    Everything is toxic in sufficient quantities. I've opened many hard drives in my day and I'm still alive. Just don't try to eat what is inside of them
  10. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    Lol Sngx, just got a mental image of hard drive spit roast!!!!

    I used to work for a company that made coils for various applications!!! Some of the insulators for winding wire can be toxic!!!! But there is so little in a hard drive so it isn't worth worrying about!!!!
  11. GeekieNick101

    GeekieNick101 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 373

    Hey everybody,

    Yeah I'm not insane, I didnt try to eat it! But my friend was talking about high levels of cadmium in them and it releases it into the air and you breath it in while present. Also it hurts your brain and so on and he was telling me how there is a entire village of mentally less advantaged people in China because their parents where exposed to a large amount of cadmium when the United States used to send all there old computer parts to China to be recycled to be turned into something else. But keeping in mind thats thousands and thousands of components being disassembled in their carrer daily. So yes I know will admit I was over worrying about the entire concept of deadly toxican particles inside hard drives. But I could see disassembing many high level lead, cadmium and mercury devices over a period of years each day then yes harm will be done but just for a few hard drives no harm at all.
  12. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    "mentally less advantaged..." hahahahahaha Is this the new politically correct term? You meant retarded. Let's call a spade a spade.

    ALL electronics contain harmful metals that under normal circumstances are inert and safe to use. When improperly disposed of, burned, or allowed to decay - like in a landfill, release these harmful elements and compunds. That is why many municipalities forbid e-waste in regular garbage collection. There is a growing and large e-waste recycling and salvage industry in the USA.

    In addition to harmful elements, electronics also contain precious metals such as gold. Many of these companies recover these items.
  13. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    Do you mean they are getting fed up of having to collect up all those dead emachines!!!!:)
  14. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    That's why I like to use when ever I can. At least some of the old machines can be recycled and used like new for a while longer. Here is southeastern Montana, they will pick up anything and try to recycle what they can. We have copper, gold and platinum mines, and other mineral mines here in this state too. Montana is a large state with a small population
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