Greenpeace finds hazardous materials in the iPhone

Environmental group Greenpeace on Monday announced that it had found hazardous materials in Apple’s iPhone. The group commissioned the tests on the iPhone to measure both internal and external components.

According to Greenpeace the tests revealed chemicals that 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).

The test also found brominated compounds in half the samples, which can create dioxin when burned, according to the study. The compounds comprised 10 percent of the total weight of the flexible circuit board in the iPhone, the group said.

“Apple missed a key opportunity when it rolled out the iPhone in June,” said Rick Hind of Greenpeace. “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.”

Apple representatives were not immediately available to comment.

Greenpeace also said the battery in the iPhone 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, the group said.

The environmental group has made Apple a frequent target of its activities. In August 2006, Greenpeace scolded Apple for its environmental policies in a quarterly report on how companies deal with hazardous chemicals, recycling and take-back policies. It also launched a Web site critical of Apple last December and staged demonstrations at this year’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

For its part, Apple has had little comment on Greenpeace’s activities. However, in May, CEO Steve Jobs published an open letter, outlining his company’s plans to remove toxic chemicals from its products. In June, Apple’s updated MacBook Pro line featured models that included mercury-free, LED-backlit displays that are more environmentally friendly than the cold cathode florescent lamp technology used in previous laptops.

Updated at 1:25 p.m. ET to include more background on Greenpeace’s dealings with Apple.

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