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Greenpeace Fires Back at Chemical Group Over iPhone
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007 at 8:40 AM - by
First, the environmental activist group Greenpeace released a report calling Apple to task over chemicals found in the iPhone, then a bromine-focused industry group cried foul over the Greenpeace report. Now Greenpeace is defending its report and chemical analysis procedures.
In response to the Bromine Science and Environmental Forum (BSEF), Greenpeace International Web Editor, Tom Dowdall stated "The study clearly identified bromine in a wide range of materials and components in the iPhone. The technique used is widely recognised for this purpose (XRF; X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometry)."
He added "Similarly, analysis of other hazardous chemicals in the iPhone, such as phthalates, were conducted using recognised techniques."
Mr. Dowdall went on to explain that it was not possible to determine exactly which brominated chemicals are used in the iPhone -- an issue that the BSEF pointed out -- because current chemical analysis tools aren't capable of pinpointing which form of the chemical was used. The only way to know for sure, he explained, is for Apple to release the information.
Greenpeace does acknowledge that the bromine used in the iPhone as a flame retardant is most likely a reactive form that bonds with other chemicals to create a plastic when heated. Once converted into a plastic, the chemical is no longer available to the environment. The group points out, however, that in many cases electronic devices containing bromine are dismantled by hand by workers in China, potentially exposing them to the hazardous chemicals.
"While the iPhone might not yet be waste we want all companies to eliminate BFR's from their products," Mr. Dowdall said.
While watchdogging companies to ensure that consumers are not exposed to hazardous chemicals is an admirable act, the public attack on Apple and the iPhone may have a different motive behind it -- namely, headline grabbing. In a rebuttal to Gizmodo, Mr. Dowdall commented "While it might not make as many headlines as the iPhone it doesn't mean that we are not focusing on all manufacturers to remove toxic chemicals from their products."
In this case, Greenpeace's method may do more to harm the organization than help it.
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