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I Didn't Know That

SCIENCE FILE / An exploration of issues and trends affecting science, medicine and the environment

February 29, 1996

Q: How long do compact discs last?

A: Although manufacturers claim an expected life span of 20 years for the recording devices, research from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration suggests that the discs begin to degrade within three to five years, according to Science and Technology Desk Reference. The primary problem is oxidation of the aluminum substrate on which the data is recorded.

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