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Panasonic Gets The Lead Out

Secaucus, N.J. – Panasonic sought to lessen the potential fallout over the impact of the digital television transition on the environment this holiday season by revealing that its new plasma display panels are manufactured without environmentally hazardous lead.

Plasma display panels are glass-sealed image display devices, equivalent to a cathode ray tube in a conventional television.

In conventional manufacturing processes, lead oxide glass is used in the dielectric layer, electrodes, glass sealant and other structural elements. Lead oxide glass was valued for its ability to stabilize production yields and quality.

Using new production techniques, Panasonic has stabilized production yields without the use of lead oxide. This is said to eliminate all of the roughly 70 grams (0.15 pounds) of lead used in a 37-inch plasma panel.

“Panasonic is committed to achieving a sustainable future through the development of environmentally conscious products,” said David Thompson, Panasonic North America’s environmental affairs director. “Now with this achievement, we believe that Panasonic plasma displays have outpaced our flat panel TV competitors in an important area of environmental performance: the elimination of hazardous heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, mercury — commonly used in backlit LCD TVs and in projection TV lamps.”

The removal of lead from the manufacturing process is expected to eliminate a total of about 300 metric tons of lead worldwide, which could have eventually ended up in the waste stream.

Meanwhile, in removing lead from the parts list, Panasonic said it “made significant advances in enhancing the performance of the phosphors used to render colors on the screen.”

The company’s phosphor technology is estimated to deliver 60,000 hours of TV viewing time — more than 25 years at seven hours per day — before reaching half brightness.

Phosphor improvements have also led to the virtual elimination of the burn-in phenomenon in Panasonic plasma TVs, the company said.