– Recent scientific tests have revealed that Apple's
iPhone contains hazardous chemicals, says Greenpeace
. According to the environmental organization, tests have uncovered two types of hazardous substances,which have already been eliminated by other mobile phone makers.
In May, after thousands participated in the Green my Apple campaign, Steve Jobs claimed, "Apple is ahead of, or will soon be ahead of, most of its competitors" on environmental issues, reports Greenpeace.
The organization says it watched closely when the iPhone was launched in June for any mention of its green features, but none was mentioned. As a result, Greenpeace that month bought an iPhone and sent it to its UK research laboratories. Analysis revealed the iPhone contains toxic brominated compounds (indicating the prescence of brominated flame retardants [BFRs]) and hazardous PVC, says Greenpeace. The findings are detailed in group’s report, "Missed Call: The iPhone's Hazardous Chemicals."
An independent scientific laboratory tested 18 internal and external components of the iPhone and confirmed the presence of brominated compounds in half the samples, including in the phone's antenna, in which they made up 10% of the total weight of the flexible circuit board, says Greenpeace. A mixture of toxic phthalates was found to make up 1.5% of the plastic coating of the headphone cables, the group adds.
Dr. David Santillo, senior scientist at Greenpeace Research Laboratories, commented, "Two of the phthalate plasticisers found at high levels in the headphone cable are classified in Europe as 'toxic to reproduction, category 2' because of their long-recognized ability to interfere with sexual development in mammals. 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."
The disassembling also revealed the iPhone's battery was glued and soldered into the handset. This hinders battery replacement and makes separation for recycling, or appropriate disposal, more difficult, and therefore adds to the burden of electronic waste, Greenpeace believes.
The organization reports Nokia
is PVC free, and Motorola
and Sony Ericsson
already have products on the market with BFR-free components. Apple's competitors have also identified extra toxic chemicals they intend to remove in the future – beyond current minimum legal requirements. Nokia and Sony Ericsson also have global takeback policies for phones and accept responsibility for reuse and recycling.
Apple does not have a global free takeback policy, so the eventual fate of the between four million and 10 million iPhones expected to be sold in its first year is uncertain, concludes Greenpeace.