Hazardous Materials Found in Apple’s iPhone

July 6, 2010

Tests commissioned by Greenpeace reveal a variety of hazardous chemicals in both the external and internal components of Apple’s iPhone, the international environmental group said today. The chemicals included “phthalates” in the vinyl plastic earphone wiring at levels that are prohibited in young children’s toys in San Francisco and the European Union (EU). Greenpeace also previously found phthalates in the earphone wiring of Apple’s iPod Nano.

The iPhone tests were the first of an Apple product following
the company’s commitment in May by CEO Steve Jobs to make a
“Greener Apple.” Apple specifically pledged to phase out all PVC
plastics and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) by the end of

Greenpeace tested 18 components of the iPhone. In addition to
vinyl (PVC) plastic with phthalates, tests showed brominated
compounds in half the samples.  In their sampling report, “Missed
Call: the iPhone’s Hazardous Chemicals,” the authors  noted that
brominated compounds can create dioxin when burned.  The compounds
comprised 10 percent of the total weight of the flexible circuit
board in the iPhone.

This is the third time that Greenpeace has tested an Apple
product since 2006. Similar analyses of a MacBook Pro and an iPod
Nano also revealed the presence of phthalates and BFRs.

“Apple missed a key opportunity when it rolled out the iPhone in
June.  There is no reason why the iPhone could not have been made
without toxins like vinyl plastics and brominated flame retardants
as Nokia is already doing,” said Rick Hind of Greenpeace.

“The phthalates found in the headphone cords are classified in
Europe as ‘toxic to reproduction’ because of their long-recognized
ability to interfere with sexual development. While they are not
prohibited in mobile phones, these phthalates are banned from use
in all toys or childcare articles sold in Europe. Apple should
eliminate the use of these chemicals from its products range,”
commented Dr. David Santillo, senior scientist at the Greenpeace
Research Laboratories, who coordinated the project and
deconstructed the iPhone for analysis.

In disassembling the iPhone for testing, Greenpeace also
discovered that the battery was glued and soldered to the handset. 
This will make battery replacement difficult for consumers and
further undermine recycling of the iPhone when it is discarded.

“As Apple prepares to sell iPhones in Europe this November, it
will have another chance to be a leader in putting a green iPhone
on the global market just in time for the holidays,” said Hind.
“That would put the company on track to honor its pledge to phase
out the use of these substances in all their products by 2008,”
concluded Hind.

VVPR info: [email protected]

Notes: More information at: https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/iphone-s-hazardous-chemicals

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