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November 2007

iPhone contains hazardous chemicals and materials

Apple’s iPhone contains hazardous chemicals and materials, according to the results of scientific tests commissioned by Greenpeace. 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 made up 10 per cent of the total weight of the flexible circuit board. A mixture of toxic phthalate esters 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.

Apple launched the iPhone into the United States 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.

During its analysis, Greenpeace also found that the iPhone’s battery was, unusually, 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.