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Ipods Computers Iphones Loaded With Toxic Chemicals

May 19, 2008
Apple Computer, based in Cupertino, CA, manufactures and retails personal computers and software. In 2006, the company employed 16,820 people and generated revenues of $19.3 billion.

Apple has consistently lagged behind competitors in environmental programs such as recycling computers; phasing out toxic chemicals like PVC from its computers; ensuring transparency and a willingness to talk to environmental groups.

In 2002, BusinessWeek named Apple Computer as having one of the worst board of directors. The magazine cited interlocking directorship--Steve Jobs sits on the board of directors for the Gap and the Gap CEO sits on Apple's board--and the fact that the CEO of Micro Warehouse, which accounted for nearly 2.9 percent of Apple's net sales in 2001, sits on the company's compensation committee. The magazine used criteria such as board independence and stock ownership for the listing.

According to Greenpeace, Apple products made with toxic chemicals (such as flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride) are being sold worldwide. When discarded, they typically end up in the hands of children in China, India and other developing countries. They dismantle the products for parts and are exposed to dangerous toxins that threaten their health and the environment.

Take action now to get Apple to go green. The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has announced that the results of independent tests confirm earlier Greenpeace findings that headphone cords used in Apple Inc.'s iPod and iPhone contain high levels of phthalates. According to a lawsuit filed by CEH, Apple's failure to include a warning label on these products places the company in violation of California law.

There is no reason to have these potentially hazardous chemicals in iPhones, said CEH Executive Director Michael Green. We expect Apple to reformulate their products to make them safer from cradle to grave, so they don't pose a threat to consumers, workers or the environment.

Phthalates, used to soften plastic and make it flexible, have been found to demonstrate hormone-disrupting effects that can lead to reproductive or developmental diseases or deformities.
Apple Computer Inc. was one of the companies included in Greenpeace International E-waste Hall of Shame.

Greenpeace International discovered Apple products in their visit to a Chinese scrap yard. Apple, along with IBM, Panasonic, Toshiba, and Acer, has not committed to remove chemicals from products or be responsible for the safe recycling and responsible disposal of their products.

Under California's Proposition 65, any product exposing consumers to carcinogens or reproductive toxins must carry a warning label. Yet the most recent test announced by CEH found 6,200 parts per million (ppm) of phthalates in the iPhone headset cable and 6,300 ppm in the iPod's headset cable, levels even higher than the 5,070 ppm that Greenpeace found in the iPhone headset cable.

More than 70 environmental groups have signed a letter to former Vice President Al Gore, who sits on the board of Apple, asking him to push the company to become more sustainable. Environmentalists express surprise that as Americas best-known environmental advocate, Gore would oppose shareholder resolutions which Apple claims were unanimously voted against asking Apple to become greener.

Apple customers should know that when they get their hands on an iPhone they may be getting a dose of toxic chemicals as well, Green said. It's clear that Apple's priority is to market new products as fast as possible, not as safely as possible. For their customers who are buying now, that's just not good enough.

Apple has not responded directly to CEH's litigation letter, but the company did announce that it plans to phase all polyvinyl chlorides (PVCs) out of its products by 2008. According to Apple, PVCs are the source of the phthalates in the headset cords.

Apple is recalling 1.8 million batteries used in its laptop computers worldwide after repeated overheating complaints. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were nine complaints of batteries overheating, two of which were reports of minor burns caused by the machines.

The recall affects laptop computers such as the iBook, G4 and Powerbook G4, sold between October 2003 and August 2006. The recall comes shortly after Dell recalled over 4 million batteries from laptops, which were also supplied by Sony.

The company has drawn criticism from CEH and other environmental groups before, which charge that Apple does not have sufficient policies for the recycling and disposal of e-waste.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs posted an open letter on his company's Web site in response to the environmental criticism leveled at Apple in which he details the company's plans for removing many harmful chemicals from its products and increasing recycling.

Greenpeace, an environmental advocacy organization who had ranked Apple dead last of 15 electronics company in a recent report it published, responded to Jobs' letter by saying they are pleased with the company's plans but it's not everything we asked for and they will push Apple to become green to the core.
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