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Scientific tests reveal iPhone contains hazardous chemicals and materials, says Greenpeace


Amsterdam, International — Apple’s iPhone contains hazardous chemicals and materials, according to the results of scientific tests commissioned by Greenpeace and released today. This is the first testing of an Apple product following the commitment by Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, to a ‘Greener Apple’, in May 2007.
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 (1) made up 10 per cent of the total weight of the flexible circuit board. A mixture of toxic phthalate esters (2) was found to make up 1.5 per cent of the plastic (PVC) coating of the headphone cables.

The insight into the components of the iPhone is presented in the Greenpeace report, ‘Missed call: the iPhone’s hazardous chemicals’ (3). 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 brominated flame retardants and PVC in some components.

Apple launched the iPhone into the US market in June 2007. The discovery of hazardous chemicals suggests that Apple is failing to make early progress, even in entirely new product lines, towards achieving its commitment to phase-out all uses of brominated compounds and PVC by the end of 2008.

“Steve Jobs has missed the call on making the iPhone his first step towards greening Apple’s products” said Zeina Alhajj, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner. “It seems that Apple is far from leading the way for a green electronics industry as competitors like Nokia already sell mobile phones free of PVC.”

Dr. David Santillo, Senior Scientist at the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, co-ordinated the project and deconstructed the iPhone for analysis. He said, “Two of the phthalate plasticisers found at high levels in the headphone cable are classified as “toxic to reproduction, category 2” because of their long-recognised 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.”

During its analysis, Greenpeace also found that the iPhone’s battery was, unusually, glued and soldered in to 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.

“Apple needs to re-invent its iPhone…in green,” continued Alhajj. “The company needs to design out all hazardous substances and materials from its products so that a real solution is found for the growing mountain of e-waste,” concluded Alhajj. “Whether the iPhone model due for European release in November 2007 also relies on brominated internal components and PVC is a question Steve Jobs needs to answer.”

Greenpeace Video to Steve Jobs

Related Reports

* Missed call: the iPhone’s hazardous chemicals

15 October 2007

Notes to Editor

(1) Bromine: Whether in additive or reactive form, the presence of high proportions by weight of bromine in electronic components is of concern with respect to the disposal or recycling of end-of-life iPhone handsets, as even cross-linked organic-bound bromine can contribute to the formation of toxic chemicals, including persistent and bioaccumulative brominated dioxins and related compounds during thermal destruction or processing.

(2) Phthalates: The European Directive 2005/84/EC prohibits the use of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate(DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and benzyl butyl phthalate(BBP) in all toys or childcare articles put on the market in Europe (with a limit of 0.1% by weight).


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