A plus 1002 Sub-objective 4.5 – Explain environmental impacts and appropriate controls

Welcome to ExamNotes by CertBlaster! In Objective 4.5 Explain environmental impacts and appropriate controls, we will look at ways we can control the negative impact of the materials we handle on the environment and ourselves.

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MSDS documentation for handling and disposal

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires chemical manufacturers, distributors, and importers to provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), in order to communicate the hazards of dangerous chemical products. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require that the employer maintain an MSDS or SDS for every material that poses a risk to personal health or the environment. Data sheets are to be kept in a location where they are accessible by the employees. If there are any questions about the use or disposal of any materials, ask for the specific MSDS (SDS).

Temperature, humidity level awareness and proper ventilation

Computers are sensitive to high levels of heat and will operate unpredictably in extreme cases. Provide proper ventilation to computer components in order to avoid heat buildup. Also, be aware of the humidity levels. Low humidity prevents the free flow of static electricity. When static electricity builds up, ESD is much more likely to occur.

Power surges, brownouts, blackouts

Computers rely on a consistent reliable voltage level in order to operate properly. If the flow of electricity is interrupted or if the voltage fluctuates, the equipment will fail. A power surge is a brief overvoltage condition, called a voltage spike, that can do damage to a system. A brownout is a brief undervoltage condition that will cause equipment failures. A blackout is an absence of electrical energy.

Battery backup

A battery backup can provide a consistent, reliable power supply. By running from a battery supply that is constantly being charged, equipment is able to run from a clean stable power source.

UPSs are rated by wattage and Volt-amps. When selecting a UPS, it is best to calculate the anticipated load and choose a power supply that is rated approximately 40% higher, e.g. a 600W would require a 1000W UPS. This extra headroom will provide longer runtime in the event of a power failure and will not overly tax the unit. UPSs provide protection against surges, brownouts, and blackouts.

UPS-Battery Backup

Surge suppressor

A surge suppressor provides protection against voltage spikes. When the surge suppressor senses voltage higher than its rating, the surge suppressor trips an internal breaker which cuts power to its outlets. Once a surge suppressor has been triggered, it needs to be replaced. If the surge suppressor has an indicator light, the light will flicker. Also, many surge suppressors contain phone jacks and if they are available, use them. Electricity can use any physical connection to enter your system. Phones and modems are not capable of handling high voltage. In our example below, observe that this unit has indicators for Line, Fault, and Protection.

Surge suppressor

Protection from airborne particles

Airborne particulate matter is a health hazard but just as dangerous can build up inside equipment, clogging fans and increasing the possibility of overheating. Machines operating in an environment where these contaminants are present should use specially designed protection. Similarly, people operating those machines need personal protection. Shown below is an unprotected CPU heatsink after years of unprotected operation. As you can imagine, this CPU was overheating.

CPU Heatsink Clogged with Dust


PCs need to be protected from environmental hazards. Equipment operating in an environment where airborne dust, or other fine suspended particles, is present requires additional protection. Shown below is a look at a well-sealed dust-proof PC enclosure. This enclosure will not permit air to enter anywhere except the specified air intakes at the fans and vents. These openings will have filters that should be monitored for buildup of debris.

PC dust proof enclosure

Since most PCs use one or more fans in order to draw outside air into the system for cooling, blocked filters result in obstructed airflow which can lead to overheating. As a result, it is important to recognize exactly what is contained in the cooling air. The power supply cooling fans draw these contaminants through the vents into the enclosure where they can build up. This buildup causes the internal components to be covered in a buildup of fine debris, thereby reducing the ability to conduct heat away from sensitive electronics.

The solution, aside from regular vacuuming, is a specially designed enclosure. These enclosures use air filters on the intakes and fans to forcibly create positive airflow to the unit in order to provide clean air to the system. Ideally, the intake for the enclosure would draw air from outside the contaminated area in order to keep the filters from premature clogging.

Air filters/Mask

As mentioned above, air filters will prevent contaminants from entering the device and reducing the buildup of debris on fans, capacitors, and heatsinks which are designed to dissipate heat. An air filter mask is the first line of personal protection for airborne contaminants. Make sure there is a good seal around the whole mask. Otherwise, leaks will be evident after a period of exposure due to streaks of debris on the wearer’s face. Double-check the seal.

Air Filter Mask

Dust and debris

As noted above, dust and debris will decrease the internal device components’ ability to conduct heat out of the system. These contaminants will also lead to premature wear and failure of moving parts such as fans and optical media readers/writers.

Very dusty computer

Compressed air

There are two main solutions to the dust and debris problem. The first is compressed air.

Compressed air is great for the relocation of contaminants, the keyword here being relocation. Since compressed air does not remove the contaminants and only blows them off of the components, exercise care in order to not fill the workspace with the contaminant material. Use compressed air outside the building where the dust can be dissipated into the atmosphere. You won’t make any friends by blowing out a dusty PC in your workspace.



The second solution is a vacuum. A good anti-static vacuum is the best method for cleaning out a dusty PC. Vacuums will clean out and hold any contaminants, preventing any secondary contamination of nearby parts and people. Be absolutely sure that the vacuum is rated as anti-static as there should be no metal parts or attachments that can damage the sensitive internal components. Shown below is an approved Anti-Static Vacuum.

Anti-Static Vacuum

Compliance with local government regulations

As noted earlier, there is a myriad of regulations governing safe operating practices in the workspace. Federal Regulations published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates standards for procedures and material handling. OSHA is responsible for the protection of workers exposed to any number of hazards. In our case, the Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) includes the practices and procedures for disabling equipment that will present a shock hazard. Do pay attention. Also, there should be an MSDS on file for any hazmat material you might come in contact with.

Failing to observe the electrical standards can result in immediate harm to yourself or coworkers. Hazardous materials can cause immediate harm in some cases and there may also be long-term effects that may not be recognized right away but could lead to life-threatening conditions such as liver or kidney damage and ultimately cancer.

Click here for the A+ Practice Test Bundle for A+ Exams 220-1001 & 220-1002

That covers objective 4.5! You’re getting closer to the end. 4.6 is next. Good luck with the test!

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