The iPhone is toxic, warns Greenpeace

The latest embarrassment for Apple's iPhone is a report from ecoadvocacy group, Greenpeace, which says the revolutionary new cell phone has traces of two toxic chemicals that have been eliminated by some of Apple's rivals from their products.

The group arranged for an independent U.K. lab to test the phone's components. "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," according to a statement on Greenpeace's Web site. "A mixture of toxic phthalates was found to make up 1.5% of the plastic (PVC) coating of the headphone cables."

According to David Santillo, senior scientist at the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, two of the phthalate plasticisers are classed in Europe as "toxic to reproduction, Category 2" because they can interfere with sexual reproduction 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," he said, according to the statement. He called on Apple to eliminate the use of these chemicals in its products.

During the iPhone disassembly, the Greenpeace testers found that phone's battery was glued and soldered in place. "This hinders battery replacement and makes separation for recycling, or appropriate disposal, more difficult, and therefore adds to the burden of electronic waste," according to Greenpeace.

By contrast, the group reported that several Apple rivals have removed these chemicals,

Nokia is totally PVC-free, and Motorola and Sony Ericsson have already 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.

The complete Greenpeace report on the iPhone tests is available here.

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