The following is a message that popped up on an Apple-hosted list, and my response. A German TV network did a clip about the dangers of computers and their components, as fire hazards (how fast they ignite, if they ignite, how hot they get, how much time you'd have to get out). The video clip in question is still available (as of early February, 2004) on ZDF's servers. I think the messages speak for themselves, but if anyone wants clarifcation, feel free to e-mail me about this at dadaist (at) mac (dot) com.
Yesterday (Monday) I saw in a tv show a clip that demonstrate what happens, if computers and accessoirs begin to burn. It was on the ZDF channel (second german television).
http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/mediathek/0,1903,MD-1000050-vi,00.html Video name: Stichprobe: Brandgefährliche Hardware
And the video media is here: http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/mediathek/video_realVideoPath/1,1471,,00.ram?ramParam=rtsp://188.8.131.52/zdf///040105_stichprobe_wis_h.rm
It is a realmedia file - open it in RealOne Player. Btw - the clip is in german - sorry for that.
Interesting sequences: 2:45 Apple iMac 4:55 Apple keyboard 5:50 Hear what the moderator say: It is time for the computer industry to make their products as safe as possible. Because others (Apple) make it already.
Because not too many people on the list in question speak German, I did my best to provide a translation. Not a word for word one, but summarizing the most important points. It follows.
The idea of the clip was - what happens if Computers/accessories catch fire in a house/office, and which are the worst in causing high temperatures and high amounts of poisonous gasses? All of the equipment was no more than three years old, so that anything they tested would be fairly commonplace.
All of the printers started burning within 30 seconds - and they show the temperatures given off in Celsius on screen.
The Lifetech MT5 (a German machine) and the HP Vectra started burning on their own within 20 seconds. The FujitsuSiemens and Sony Vaios took 30-40 seconds. The G3 iMac did NOT burn!
In terms of poisonous gasses, the burning computers gave off 30 TIMES allowable amounts of Carbon Monoxide. The professor they interviewed from Wuppertal gives a human 2-3 minutes time to get out of a room where such a computer might be burning, before the poison gas levels are fatal.
Monitors: The Philips, Belinea, Gericom and Medion monitors didn't catch fire (You can get Medion stuff at US Aldi stores now, believe it or not). But the Novita monitor burned pretty quickly (within 40 seconds). The burning monitor was giving off HIGH concentrations of CO and other gases. They called it a "Poison Gas Cocktail."
Keyboards: The MS Keyboard started burning within SIX seconds! The Cherry and Hama and Logitech keyboards burned within 30 seconds. The Apple Keyboard did NOT burn!
Someone needs to get this kind of translation out in public - if keyboards can go up THAT quickly, this is DANGEROUS!
Christian, thanks for pointing this out - VERY enlightening!