A report from Greenpeace hit the press recently (Apple Faces Legal Threat Over Toxic iPhone is just one of many articles) claiming the iPhone contains many toxic materials. Buried in the detailed reports are tests that indicate there may be some toxic materials in Apple’s earbud cables, but certainly not enough to cause any alarm. It turns out that many of these materials are found in everyday food packaging and consumer products. However, the Greenpeace report is right in pointing out that Nokia and other manufacturers have taken steps to or already have eliminated such hazardous materials as vinyl plastics and brominated flame retardants.
Just yesterday (as reported in Macworld) a chemical industry group came to Apple’s defense, claiming the report is unfair. The group noted that the brominated flame retardants used in the iPhone are commonly used in electronics products from all manufacturers, as they provide a high level of fire safety — essential in devices like laptops in which batteries randomly catch fire.
While it’s a true story that an iPod set a man’s pants on fire, I’ve had an iPhone in my pants for months now, and I can prove that I’m not sterile and have no sexual dysfunctions, but we won’t get into that. Fact is, there are plenty of dangerous substances around us every day. Scientists studying indoor exposures are a lot more concerned about formaldehydes from cleaning products than something like this. Even peanut butter has a potent cancer agent, aflatoxin. And you get far more toxic dioxin from a grass fire than from a bonfire of earbuds — though I don’t recommend smoking them.
What this story illustrates is how hysterical, and hysterically funny, people can be when confronted with a product they don’t like that is as successful as the iPod and iPhone. On the one hand, you can’t get enough of the press coverage that accompanies your attack on the popular product. On the other hand, the press coverage helps sell more product. It’s frustrating to be a curmudgeon!