July 6, 2010

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 materials.

"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: https://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: https://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

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