Apple faces potential environmental lawsuit

The Center for Environmental Health on Monday said that it has given Apple 60-days legal notice -- a step required by California law before a lawsuit is launched. The action is based on the report by environmental group Greenpeace, released earlier today, that found hazardous materials in Apple’s iPhone.

The Greenpeace 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).

Under California’s Proposition 65 law, products that can expose consumers to phthaltes or other chemicals that are reproductive toxins or carcinogens must carry a warning label, according to the Center for Environmental Health.

“There is no reason to have these potentially hazardous chemicals in iPhones” said Michael Green, Executive Director of Center for Environmental Health. “We expect Apple to reformulate their products to make them safer from cradle to grave, so they don’t pose a threat to consumers, workers or the environment.”

Apple representatives were not immediately available for comment on the potential lawsuit or the Greenpeace report.

The Center for Environmental Health wants Apple to clearly label the iPhone saying that it contains phthaltes, but ultimately it wants the company to get rid of them altogether.

"In general what we try to do is encourage the manufacturers through a negotiated settlement to reduce the use of these chemicals," Caroline Cox, a spokeswoman for the Center for Environmental Health, told Macworld. "That would be our goal with Apple."

Cox said her organization has had no communication with Apple yet.

Update: Added comment from the Center for Environmental Health. 3:58 pm 10/15/07.

The Center for Environmental Health clarified that they sent Apple the required 60 days legal notice today, not a lawsuit. The 60 day notice is required before a lawsuit can be launched. 5:53 pm 10/15/07

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