Chemical Industry Group Rebuts Greenpeace Report On iPhone

The Bromine Science and Environmental Forum (BSEF) said the iPhone was safe to use and in fact complies with regulatory requirements on cell phone use.

Greenpeace issued a scathing report of the iPhone last week which said the iPhone contains hazardous chemicals in both its external and internal components. It said that despite vows by Apple CEO Steve Jobs to make Apple products environmentally safe, tests Greenpeace commissioned found unhealthy chemicals in the iPhone, including toxic brominated compounds indicating the prescence of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and hazardous (PVC) plastic.

The BSEF disputed Greenpeace's allegations.

"In fact, all of the substances reported by Greenpeace are approved for use, and provide critical performance and safety functions in a wide range of electronic products," BSEF said in a statement on its Web site.

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"Among the substances reported by Greenpeace are brominated flame retardants (BFRs), which are commonly used in electronics to provide a high level fire safety -- in certain applications, they are the most effective products available," the group said. "Preventing fires in electronics is particularly important, as they often contain heat sources and significant amounts of highly flammable plastics. Recent incidents with music players and computer batteries bursting into flames illustrate the dangers."

The membership of the BSEF consists of Albemarle Corp., ICL Industrial Products, Chemtura and Tosoh Corp. BSEF says it receives funding from its members each year to commission scientific research on the key issues at stake with regard to brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and bromine in general.

The BSEF statement said the Greenpeace report did not determine actual hazards in iPhone components.

"The Greenpeace report does not say which BFRs are present in the iPhone because it does not know," the BSEF report says. "As the report notes, the analytical equipment used for their report can only detect the presence of an element, such as bromine, but not specific chemicals. Therefore, the report speculates about what substances might be present, and raises an alarm without any basis for doing so. Even according to the Greenpeace study, the iPhone complies with all EU regulatory requirements."