Thirty-six different cell phones, including the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III, were found to contain toxic chemicals, according to the results of a study released today.
The study, from the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center and www.ifixit.com did not look at whether users are exposed to the chemicals, but instead highlights the ways in which chemicals used in cell phones can pollute throughout their life cycle.
"We're not making any claim that there's any in-use exposure hazards from these mobile phones," said Ecology Center Research Director Jeff Gearhart, who noted that the hazardous chemicals are primarily found in the "guts" of the phones.
Gearhart said the study was an attempt to inform consumers that cell phones are chemical-intensive products and their manufacture and disposal or recycling can pollute.
"These chemicals, which are linked to birth defects, impaired learning and other serious health problems, have been found in soils at levels 10 to 100 times higher than background levels at e-waste recycling sites in China. We need better federal regulation of these chemicals, and we need to create incentives for the design of greener consumer electronics," Gearhart said in a news release.
The phones all "contained at least one of (the) following hazardous chemicals: lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury and cadmium," according to the news release.
Samsung had the best overall rating, and Apple's phones -- the iPhone 5 ranked fifth best -- were among the most improved, the study found. The Motorola Citrus was the least toxic phone, and the iPhone 2G was the most toxic, according to the study. Gearhart noted that cell phone companies have been making positive strides in their use of toxic chemicals and that continued consumer interest in this area would likely push the industry to do better.
A call seeking comment was left with a spokesman for CTIA-The Wireless Association, an industry group.
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