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I have an LCD monitor that is cracked. So far nothing leaks out but if something starts leaking should I be concerned?

I have searched and read everything from:

It is safe to be around and handle just don't eat it.


It is toxic and should be avoided!

So I ask which is it? Should I be concerned if I see leakage?

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Why do you keep it around? I'm assuming it doesn't work properly anyways? – KronoS Aug 16 '11 at 17:57
It is my laptop LCD display and the laptop works fine. I can use an external monitor for the time being and will replace this one soon. – L84 Aug 16 '11 at 18:02
You should be able to just remove the screen then and toss it out. Then replace when you're ready. – KronoS Aug 16 '11 at 18:09
They're full of nargles and blethophobs and jimcracks, and worst of all, you'll find the jabberwocky inside them. Run! Run for your lives!!!!! – music2myear Aug 16 '11 at 19:15
@music2myear Thank you for identifying the "things" making all these weird sounds coming from the screen. That really explains lots, now that i think of it. What do I feed these nargles, blethophobs and jimcracks (do you mean from the gym?) and the jabberwocky was always kind of gross, if you ask me. Nevermind, Bat Signal is on => – L84 Aug 16 '11 at 19:31
up vote 11 down vote accepted

You should really watch this video by Bill Hammack. In it, he explains how backlit LCD monitors work (he is literally like Bill Nye the Science Guy, but for adults - his videos are awesome to be honest).

Most modern LCD panels should not "leak" anything, since although liquid crystals are a liquid, they don't necessarily "flow out" of the monitor and leak everywhere. Very rarely will you see actual liquid come out of a broken LCD screen (it is very viscous).

A common chemical to use in LCD screens is MBBA. From this MSDS, you can see that while the material is poisonus if you ingest/inhale it (or get it in an open wound or your eyes), it just causes some skin irritation if you get it on you. If you do happen to get the material inside of your body, then you should seek medical assistance (as it will begin to make methemoglobin in your blood). However, if you get just a bit on your finger (externally only), wash your hands with soap and water and you should be fine.

So, to answer your question, I would not consider it safe to handle, nor would I willingly be around the stuff, so you should avoid it. That being said, if you happen to break an LCD panel and get some on you, throw it out immediately and wash your hands.

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I take objection to Bill Nye NOT being for adults - he does tons of educational and outreach stuff. :) – Shinrai Aug 16 '11 at 21:23
@Shinrai I didn't mean him in particular (I have seen some of his more recent material, very informative, and he is a very smart man)... I was referring just to his older "Bill Nye The Science Guy" videos (where most of the actors were older children). – Breakthrough Aug 16 '11 at 21:30
@Breakthrough you mean if that stuff gets on our hand/skin it is dangerous? otherwise why wash it off? – Pacerier Aug 18 '11 at 12:42
@Pacerier it is a known skin irritant (see the MSDS I linked to above), and it can be dangerous if it absorbs into your skin, or gets into an open wound (or in your eyes/mouth). – Breakthrough Aug 18 '11 at 12:52
Also, why NOT wash it off? If I get honey on my hands I wash it off, and that's not dangerous... – Shinrai Aug 19 '11 at 14:54

I have no specific knowledge regarding the exact chemicals involved here, nor have I ever seen an MSDS for this stuff. Now, that said:

I used to work for a laptop manufacturer doing support, and we were instructed that in the event that a customer ever called reporting a leaking LCD we were to IMMEDIATELY tell them to hang up the phone, call emergency services, and get a hazmat team onsite, while we escalated the call to our internal dedicated safety response team. That seems like a pretty harsh response (it's more severe than what I would have been expected to do for anything short of "My laptop set my house on fire") so I'm inclined to think this stuff isn't especially safe. It may be true that it's only a hazard if ingested, though; based on my semi-limited knowledge of the chemistry involved that seems possible. If it were me, though, I'd take the extra cautious route just in case.

(In practice, this basically never happens short of a severe puncture like a blade would cause because of the way these things are manufactured. I've actually never personally heard of a situation where an LCD was leaking short of taking a bullet.) EDIT: Let me just make this stronger. This hardly ever happens, ever, anywhere, ever - it's designed to prevent exactly this sort of problem. Unless you actually witness it in action there is probably no reason to worry about it. See further discussion in comments.

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Wow, that was great thank you. I am ready to flip the switch for my bat signal to call for help! – L84 Aug 16 '11 at 18:05
Don't bother if it's not actually leaking. It sounds like it's been this way for a while - it's not going to suddenly get worse. Of course, if it's on your laptop, you probably at least want to get it replaced... :) – Shinrai Aug 16 '11 at 18:11
=> Not a long while just past week or so but made me wonder about it. – L84 Aug 16 '11 at 18:13
It's important to understand that the actual fluid is enclosed by a plastic membrane apart from just the substrate and front glass. So, if a display looks cracked, it's still exceptionally unlikely that fluid will leak. The monitor is designed to prevent a leak even when badly damaged. – jcrawfordor Aug 16 '11 at 18:48
LCD leakage only occurs in very, very, very rare instances. I've seen hundreds of cracked LCD screens and have never seen one leaking. And if I did, I'm still OK. I think. – music2myear Aug 16 '11 at 19:14

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