A Greenpeace investigation into hazardous materials in the world’s most popular game consoles – Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3 Elite (PS3) and Microsoft Xbox 360 – reveals that all three have tested positive for hazardous chemicals. The analysis of these toxic materials -- polyvinyl chloride (PVC), phthalates, beryllium and bromine, which is indicative of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) – are contained in the new report, “Playing Dirty,” and show that all three manufacturers failed the green electronics test established by Greenpeace.
The report reveals that both the Xbox 360 and PS3 contained very
high levels of phthalates that are not permitted in components of
toys or childcare products sold in the European Union. One of the
phthalates, DEHP, is known to interfere with sexual development in
mammals - including humans - especially in males. The other
phthalate, DiNP, found only in Xbox 360, is prohibited from use in
toys and childcare products in the European Union if children can
place them in their mouths (1).
"Whether game consoles are classified as toys or not, they can
still contain hazardous chemicals and materials that could harm
humans. The technology is available for the manufacturers to design
out toxics and produce greener game consoles now," said Dr. Kevin
Brigden, Greenpeace Science Unit.
All game consoles tested positive for various hazardous
chemicals. For example, high levels of bromine were found in the
components of all three, with the highest by weight levels of 13.8
percent and 12.5 percent in the PS3 and the Wii respectively. But
the tests also show that each of the manufacturers avoided or
reduced uses of individual hazardous substances in certain
materials within their consoles. In the Nintendo Wii, beryllium
alloys were not identified in electrical contacts, and the use of
PVC and phthalates was determined to be limited. At the same time,
the PS3 included examples of "bromine - free" circuit boards, and
the Xbox 360 had lower usage of brominated materials within housing
"Our test clearly shows that a greener game console is possible,
said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner. "By
combining the best practices of each console design, we could
replace most of the hazardous chemicals found in these game
consoles with toxic free materials."
The game consoles market is one of the fastest growing in
consumer electronics with over 60 million sold and 14 percent
growth last year (2). They not only contain hazardous chemicals but
also contribute to the fastest growing type of waste - e-waste.
Discarded game consoles are often dumped and end up in unsafe and
dirty recycling yards in developing countries, harming the
environment and the health of workers.
VVPR info: Contacts: Jane Kochersperger, Greenpeace USA, 202-319-2493 direct; 202-680-3798 cell; Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaign in US, (415) 307 3382 cell
Notes: ‘Playing Dirty’ can be found at: www.greenpeace.org/consoles/playingdirty
Notes to Editors:
(1) DIRECTIVE 2005/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council can be found at: http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2005:344:0040:0043:EN:PDF
(2) Datamonitor, 2007. Summary. "Games Consoles: Global Industry Guide" Report. Publisher Datamonitor. August 2007. Accessed on the 10-01-08 via Report Buyer at http://www.reportbuyer.com/leisure_media/computer_games/games_consoles_global_industry_guide.html
For additional information, visit: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/press-center/reports4/playing-dirty
For a summary of health risks posed by the chemicals and a more detailed analysis, visit: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/game-consoles-no-consolation
- PVC: can be a source of toxic and persistent chemicals when recycled or disposed of (e.g. by incineration or burning). Often requires the use of chemical additives, such as toxic phthalate plasticizers.
- Phthalates: hormone disrupters, some are toxic to reproduction interfering with sexual development in mammals, especially in males
- Bromine: can be a source of toxic and persistent brominates chemicals when recycled or disposed of (e.g. by incineration or burning).
- Beryllium: dusts and fumes produced by recycling or processing can lead to chronic beryllium disease (CBD), an incurable debilitating lung disease