Researchers from The University's department of Chemistry have figured out a way to recover the chemical from LCD displays and turn it into this medicinal compound, which could be put into pills or dressings.
The research is in a paper titled "Expanding the potential for waste polyvinyl-alcohol," published in Green Chemistry.
The unique twist to this research - as if we need anything stranger than using old TVs for medicine - is that the discovery comes to us not through researchers seeing the medical use of PVA and then looking at sources for it, but rather researchers looking at what to do with e-waste, and finding a medical use for it.
Professor James Clark, director of the York Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and one of the author's of the research, said: "With 2.5 billion liquid crystal displays already reaching the end of their life, and LCD televisions proving hugely popular with consumers, that is a huge amount of potential waste to manage.
"It is important that we find ways of recycling as many elements of LCDs as possible so we don't simply have to resort to burying and burning them."
Clark explains that even though PVA isn't a major environmental hazard, there's no sense in wasting it since it is a non-renewable resource. And because LCD waste from electrical and electronic equipment is the fastest growing waste stream in the European Union, it makes sense to find some use for LCDs other than incinerating or landfilling them.