Friday, November 9, 2007

iPhones Toxic? Is Apple a Daily Dose of Danger?

There's a point where technology, health, politics and the environment meet and often clash. Right now, you'd think that the venerated (by some) Apple iPhone is the equivalent of the poisoned apple handed to Snow White by her wicked, wicked stepmother.

It's a nasty brew: the long-awaited iPhone, California's Center for Environmental Health, Greenpeace, a fake story about threatened European demonstrations, California laws, and of course, lawsuits. As MacNN reports, the dirty details allege that the techno-darling iPhone is laced with things that can seep into you via your skin.

Even worse, the CEH declared, there's dangers from "ingestion" if you touch the product and then put your fingers in your mouth. (Didn't your Mom warn you about that?).

CEH also warned that there's double danger when iPhoners "place the products in their mouths during normal use." To date I've never yet placed a cellphone, Palm Pilot, or the cords/headphones for any of them in my mouth, but that's just me. Something about being able to talk easier without the unit bouncing around on my tongue.

The headphones have come under especially heavy criticism. Regardless of whether you hold them, lick them, or tote them, puppy-like, in your mouth, critics say that the iPhone exposes its Fanboys (and girls) to a grocery list of nasty, noxious ingredients.

Among them, according to Greenpeace, which has seen red over the iPhone, are: " PVCs and brominated flame retardants (BFRs)" In hauling Apple into the courtroom fruit-basket-turnover circuit, the CEH alleges that those slim little wires and cables are larded with "DEHP (Di-ethylhexyl Phthalate) and DBP (Di-n-butyl Phthalate)".

California's Proposition 65 says products with those ingredients must carry a warning label. The iPhone and its doo-dads don't.

Greenpeace alleges that half of the phone's internal and external workings contain dangerous materials. And, GP says, Apple and Steve Jobs had promised to de-toxify their products.

Although the Greenies definitely want to peel this Apple, it turns out that the frequently-repeated stories about protests during today's Euo-launch of the iPhone are wrong numbers. Greenpeace makes that clear in its blog.

On the other hand, one Greenpeace official, Rick Hind, has said that the iPhone's toxins could damage kidneys, as well as being a "reproductive hazard." So maybe the iPhone won't be your first choice for, phone sex.

Somewhere, someone has to make the call on whether or not the iPhone really is dangerous to your health. Until then, E.T., don't phone home--and everyone else, please keep your iPhone out of your mouth.

Memo to Steve Jobs--if your product sounds like it's made from mutated forms of pesticides, maybe it's time to dial up another version. Unless, of course, you're going for the "I'll talk on (or around) my phone until I start to glow in the dark" crowd.

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