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Thursday, 11 October 2012 13:12

New report about toxic chemical levels in cell phones

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tw01Electronics manufacturers are fond of touting the ecological friendliness of their products, but objective attempts to measure the impact of such changes are few and far between. A new report from HealthyStuff.org aims to improve user visibility on this issue. The organization teamed up with iFixit to compare toxic chemical levels in 36 cell phones from Motorola, Samsung, RIM, Apple, LG, Nokia, and Palm.

The Ecology Center study looked at levels of toxins like mercury and lead in components such as the screen, solder and processor. Phones were ranked on a qualititative scale from "Low" to "Medium" to "High" and were also given a numeric rating from 2.6 (the lowest score) to 5.0 (the highest).  Apple's latest mobile phone got a clean bill of health from organizations that studied toxics in mobile phones. The iPhones 4S and 5 were among only six phones with scores below 3.0, at 2.75 and 2.69, respectively. At 2.56, the Motorola Citrus clocked in with the lowest score. Also given top marks: the LG Remarq, the Samsung Captivate and the Samsung Evergreen. The vast majority of phones evaluated -- about two-thirds -- fell in the "Medium" category. The iPhone 4 just missed a "Low" ranking, as did the Samsung Reclaim and Galaxy S III.The study's worst rankings highlight the evolution of Apple's products over the last few years. The iPhone 2G, released in 2007, was given a solid 5.0, with high levels of bromine, mercury, chlorine, lead and other chemicals. Also in the 2G's company among phones with high scores: the Palm M125, the Motorola MOTO W233 Renew, the Nokia N95 and the BlackBerry Storm 9530.

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Samsung phones had the highest average rating of all phones tested. While Apple showed the greatest improvement of any manufacturer in the study among phone models released in the last five years, none of the phones tested was free of toxic chemicals.

Among the changes manufacturers are making:
•    Using less hazardous resins to replace PVC in cabling and other applications
•    Avoiding the need for cabling through simplified design
•    Using mercury-free LCD displays and arsenic-free glass
•    Using bromine- and chlorine-free printed circuit board laminates
•    Moving to less toxic, reactive phosphorous-based flame retardant chemistries

Read 7258 times Last modified on Thursday, 11 October 2012 13:19
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