iPhone 5 Ranks Higher than Galaxy S III in New Study on Toxic Chemicals in Mobile Phones

October 3, 2012

For the first time the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center teamed up with technology gurus at ifixit.com to research toxic chemicals in 36 different cell phones, including the recently released iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III. The results were released today at www.HealthyStuff.org and www.ifixit.com.

The Motorola Citrus ranked the least toxic phone followed by the iPhone 4 S and the LG Remarq. The new iPhone 5 ranked 5th, versus its primary competitor, Samsung Galaxy S III, which ranked 9th. The most toxic phone tested was the iPhone 2G. The full list of rankings can be found at HealthyStuff.org.

Every phone sampled in this study contained at least one of following hazardous chemicals: lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury and cadmium. These hazardous substances can pollute throughout a product’s life cycle, including when the minerals are extracted; when they are processed; during phone manufacturing; and at the end of the phone’s useful life. Emissions during disposal and recycling of phones as electronic waste, or “e-waste,” are particularly problematic. The mining of some tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold used in mobile phones has been linked to conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A 2004 study found that three-quarters of all cell phones leach lead at levels that would qualify them as hazardous waste. While tracking e-waste is difficult, it is estimated that 50-80% is exported to countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Phillipines, where there is a labor-intensive, informal recycling infrastrucure that often lacks environmental and human health safeguards.

Learn more about responsible electronics recycling from the Electronic TakeBack Coalition

Suggested mobile phone recyclers: Go to e-stewards to find a responsible recycler. The companies below have signed the e-stewards pledge to not export e-waste to developing countries:

Capstone Wireless – Use their website to request a free UPS shipping label. They have a buy back program, so you may get money back for your old phone.

Call2Recycle – The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp also accepts old cell phones for free recycling. They have drop off sites in many cities (usually in stores). Use their location finder to enter your zip code to find the closest.

Graco Bans Hazardous Flame Retardants

July 16, 2012

Today HealthyStuff.org, Healthy Child Healthy World and the Ecology Center applaud Graco Children’s Products, Inc. for committing to ban the use of four of the most toxic chemical flame retardants from all of their products. Graco is one of the nation's largest children's product manufacturers, selling nearly 1 out of every 3 baby-gear products purchased in the U.S.

Over the last few months, nearly 4,000 parents signed a petition started by Sara Snow (green lifestyle expert, author of Sara Snow’s Fresh Living and Healthy Child, Healthy World Parent Ambassador) asking Graco to eliminate its use of hazardous flame retardants in their children’s products.

In response, Graco has committed to ban and monitor four Tris and related chemicals, specifically:

  • “Tris,” chemicals including TDCPP (Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate) and TCEP (Tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate),
  • TCPP (Tris (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate), which is structurally similar to the “Tris” compounds,
  • All three Tris chemicals are either carcinogens or suspected carcinogens, and
  • Firemaster 550, a chemical mixture containing ingredients that have been targeted for review by EPA due to widespread exposure and potential health risk, is also on Graco’s ban list.

While recognizing that eliminating these toxic flame-retardant chemicals puts Graco ahead of most other children’s product makers, advocates also urged the company to take additional steps to ensure their products no longer contain any hazardous chemicals. Specifically, Graco is being asked to disclose chemicals contained in their products and develop an alternatives assessment system to ensure chemicals are inherently safer and lower hazard.

Download Graco Hazardous Flame Retardant Ban Statement

You can take action today by sending Graco a thank you message!

Check out some of HealthyStuff.org's 2011 car seat test results.

New Study Finds Lead, Cadmium, BPA, Phthalates & Hazardous Flame Retardants in Gardening Products

May 3, 2012

High amounts of lead, phthalates and the toxic chemical BPA were all found in the water of a new hose after sitting outside in the sun for just a few days, according to researchers at the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, who just completed a large study of toxic chemicals in gardening products.

Nearly 200 hoses, gloves, kneeling pads and tools were tested for lead, cadmium, bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC); phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). Such chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems.

The good news news is that there are things you can do. Click here for more information and to download our Lawn & Garden Shopping Guide. Our list of PVC-free garden hoses is available here.

Low-Cost Jewelry Ranks HIGH for Toxic Chemicals

March 13, 2012

Researchers tested low-cost children’s and adult jewelry for chemicals -- including lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, bromine and chlorine (PVC) – which have been linked (in animal and some human studies) to acute allergies and to long-term health impacts such as birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer.

Over half (59%) of the products tested had a “high” level of concern due to the presence of one or more hazardous chemicals detected at high levels. Four products contained over 10% cadmium, a known carcinogen. Fifty percent contained lead, with over half of these containing more than 100 ppm of lead in one or more components, exceeding the Consumer Product Safety Commission limit of lead in children’s products.

New Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Cars Helps Consumers Avoid "New Car Smell" As Major Source of Indoor Air Pollution

February 15, 2012

On February 15, 2012, HealthyStuff.org published its fourth consumer guide to toxic chemicals in car, finding the Honda Civic at the top of this year’s list, and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport at the bottom. Over 200 of the most popular 2011- and 2012-model vehicles were tested for chemicals that off-gas from parts such as the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests and seats. These chemicals contribute to “new car smell” and a variety of acute and long-term health concerns. Since the average American spends more than 1.5 hours in a car every day, toxic chemical exposure inside vehicles can be a major source of indoor air pollution. Download the 2011/2012 Guide to New Vehicles

Poison in Paint, Toxics in Toys

December 13, 2011

On December 13, our colleagues at the Environmental Health Strategy Center released an exclusive new report, Poison in Paint, Toxics in Toys, on two groups of hormone disrupting chemicals in common household products.

For the first time, more than 650 brand name household products that contain one of two toxic chemicals of high concern, NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates) and BPA (bisphenol A), have been publicly identified. Twenty-five manufacturers reported their use of NPEs and BPA in consumer products sold in Maine under a 2008 state law on chemical safety.

Heavy metals found in Halloween makeup

October 26, 2011

HealthyStuff.org found one or more toxic heavy metals in 100 percent of the 31 Halloween make-up products tested. More than half (16 of 31) of the products tested contained detectable levels of cadmium, a reproductive and neural toxicant and carcinogen. This study comes on the heels of a bill introduced in the Michigan legislature last week to ban cadmium and mercury in certain children's products.

Hazardous flame retardants found in majority of 2011 child car seats

August 3, 2011

The latest research on toxic chemicals in children's car seats was released today by the nonprofit Ecology Center at the consumer-friendly site, www.HealthyStuff.org. While some seats were found to be virtually free of the most dangerous chemicals, over half (60%) contained at least one of the chemicals tested for.

New Research Finds 4 out of 5 Sets of Christmas and Holiday String Lights Contain Lead

December 8, 2010

According to researchers at HealthyStuff.org, who have tested more than 7,000 consumer products over the past four years, a significant percentage of holiday lights contain lead and other chemical hazards. The tests showed that 4 out of 5 light sets contained detectable lead and that 28% contained lead at levels which make the product illegal to sell in Europe (greater than 1,000 parts per million). "Some manufacturers manage to make lights without lead.  So why are we allowing any lead in these products? We have known for decades that lead can poison brains, but manufacturers are still using this compound," said Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center’s Research Director. "The last thing families want to be worrying about during the holidays is whether they are exposing their children to toxic chemicals by decorating their tree.  Both manufacturers and the government should be doing a better job of policing chemicals in products."  

Largest-Ever Study of Chemicals in Home Improvement Products Finds Lead, Phthalates, Cadmium, Organotins and Other Harmful Ingredients

October 19, 2010

HealthyStuff.org tested over 3,300 home improvement products. 1,016 samples of flooring and 2,312 samples of wallpaper were tested for this research. The test data represents the largest publicly available database of toxic chemicals in home improvement products.

Currently, there is no regulation of chemical hazards in the products tested. Our testing is not necessarily representative of all flooring and wallpaper on the market. In addition, the presence of a chemical in a product does not necessarily mean there is exposure.

New Database on Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Products Reveals Lead, Arsenic, PVC, & Hazardous Flame Retardants in School Supplies, Pet Products, Cars, and More

September 16, 2009

Researchers at HealthyStuff.org have tested over 900 common products for toxic chemicals including lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine, chlorine (PVC) and arsenic. Using an XRF analyzer, researchers at the Ecology Center analyzed the ingredients of pet products, cars, women's handbags, children's car seats and more, creating the largest database yet of independent tests of toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

One in Three Children's Toys Tested by HealthyToys.org Found to have Significant Levels of Toxic Chemicals Including Lead, Flame Retardants, and Arsenic

December 3, 2008

Lead was detected in 20% of the toys tested this year.  In fact, lead levels in some of the products were well above the 600 parts-per-million (ppm) federal recall standard used for lead paint, and will exceed the U.S. legal limit in February, according to the new Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations.  Levels of lead in many toys were significantly above the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended ceiling of 40 ppm of lead in children's products.  Children's jewelry remains the most contaminated product category, maintaining its spot at the top of HealthyToys.org’s "worst" list.

The CPSC regulations, which go into effect in February 2009, would make certain products on the shelf this holiday season illegal to sell two months from now.  Experts insist that these new regulations, while a good first step, do not go nearly far enough to protect our children.

Second Annual Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Cars and Children's Car Seats

July 22, 2008

Over 200 of the most popular 2008- and 2009-model vehicles and over 60 children's car seats were tested for chemicals that off-gas from parts such as the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests, seats, and carpet. These chemicals become part of the air we breathe, contributing to "new car smell" and a variety of acute and long-term health concerns. Since the average American spends more than 1.5 hours in a car every day, toxic chemical exposure inside vehicles is a major source of potential indoor air pollution. Children are the most vulnerable population since their systems are still developing.

First-Ever Ranking of Toxic Chemicals in Child Car Seats

May 16, 2007

Crash tests aren’t the only way to prove the safety of a car seat, according to new research released today by the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center. The same group that recently released the first-ever consumer guide to toxic chemicals in cars at www.healthycar.org used the same research methodology to give the public similar information about child car seats. Their research shows that brand new car seats are made with several dangerous chemicals that can lead to serious health risks for children.

HealthyCar.Org Released Today As First-Ever Consumer Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Cars; Over 200 New Vehicles Ranked for Environmental Safety

March 20, 2007

Over 200 of the most popular 2006- and 2007-model vehicles in the U.S. were tested for chemicals that off-gas from indoor auto parts such as the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests and seats. These chemicals become part of the air we breathe contributing to "new car smell" and a variety of acute and long-term health concerns. Since the average American spends more than 1.5 hours in a car every day, toxic chemical exposure inside vehicles is a major source of potential indoor air pollution.

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NOTICE: HealthyStuff.org ratings do not provide a measure of health risk or chemical exposure associated with any individual product, or any individual element or related chemical. HealthyStuff.org ratings provide only a relative measure of high, medium, and low concentrations of several hazardous chemicals or chemical elements in an individual product in comparison to criteria established in the site methodology.

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