Presence hazardous chemicals in mobile phones, finds survey

Presence of hazardous chemicals in mobile phones, finds survey

10:02 AM, 29th November 2012
Presence of hazardous chemicals in mobile phones, finds survey
A collection of different mobile phones.

MICHIGAN, US: sampled 36 different mobile phones that had been released in the last 5 years. The phones were completely disassembled; interior and exterior components were sampled by X-ray Fluorescents (XRF).

The sample represents the largest set of samples ever released for a type of electronic product. In total 1,106 samples were analyzed for 35 different chemicals and elements.

The phones represent 10 mobile phone manufacturers; Apple, Hewlett-Packard Development Company LP, HTC Corporation, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia Corporation, Palm, Research in Motion and Samsung Electronics. There is at least one phone tested per manufacturer, in occasion several models of mobile phones were purchased for Apple, LG, Motorola, Research in Motion, and Samsung because these are the top five mobile phone manufactures in the market.

Hazards in Phones

Mobile phones contain a large number of hazardous substances which can pollute the air when burned and leach into the soil and drinking water when buried in landfills (Osibanjo and Nnorom 2009). A mobile phone can contain over 40 elements including heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs), metals representing about 23 per cent of the weight of the phone with the remaining 77 per cent being plastics and ceramic materials (United Nations Environment Programme 2009).

100 per cent of the phones sampled in this study contained one or more of the most hazardous chemicals analyzed for. These chemicals were detected above levels of concern established for the study. These elements include bromine, chlorine, lead, mercury and cadmium.

Overall the phones were tested for 35 different chemical and elements. evaluated the overall phone hazards based on the results for 12 of these chemicals and elements.

Chemicals highlighted in YELLOW are primarily chemicals (weighted more heavily) used to rate phones; chemicals highlighted in GREY are secondary chemicals.

The Apple iPhone

According to the iPhone 3G 2009 Environmental Report, all Apple products comply with the RoHS in electrical and electronic equipment. The iPhone 3G is also BFR-free and PVC-free and includes an arsenic-free display glass, a mercury-free LED backlit display, a system battery made of lithium-ion polymer and external surfaces free of Nickel plating. The models following the iPhone 3G, like the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and the recently released iPhone 5 not only incorporate these features, but now include batteries free of lead, cadmium, and mercury.

Lead, mercury & cadmium in phones 

·         28 per cent (305 of 1105) of all samples tested contain lead at >10 ppm.

·         37 per cent (406 of 1105) of all samples tested contain mercury at >10 ppm.

·         16 per cent (173 of 1105) of all samples tested contain cadmium at >10 ppm.

Halogen Reduction in Phone Components

Apple and other industry groups consider a material PVC-free and BFR-free if it contains less than 900 ppm for Br and for Cl. Despite announced effort by Apple and other manufacturers the number component testing >900 remains significant. 

·         49 per cent (544 of 1105) of all samples tested contain bromine or chlorine at >900 ppm.

·         14 per cent (160 of 1105) of all samples tested contain bromine at >900 ppm.

·         42 per cent (464 of 1105) of all samples tested contain chlorine at >900 ppm.

© WOC News




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