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
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.
“Even the best phones from our study are still loaded with chemical
Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org.
“These chemicals, which are linked to birth defects, impaired learning and
other serious health problems, have been found in soils at levels 10 to 100
times higher than background levels at e-waste recycling sites in China. We
need better federal regulation of these chemicals, and we need to create incentives
for the design of greener consumer electronics.”
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.
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.
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.