Apple Faces Legal Threat Over ‘Toxic’ iPhone (The Times)
Rhys Blakely, The Times, October 16, 2007
Environmentalists have threatened to sue Apple if it does not make its iPhone
a "greener" product or tell consumers of the toxins allegedly used in the
The Centre for Environmental Health (CEH), a campaign group based in Oakland,
California, said that it would begin a lawsuit in 60 days unless Apple took
The threat comes after a report by Greenpeace, the environmental organisation,
which alleged that the iPhone contained dangerous levels of bromine,
chlorine and phthalates – chemicals used to increase the flexibility of
David Santillo, a senior scientist at Greenpeace, said in a video posted on
the campaign group's website: "Electronics companies have traditionally
relied on the cool, clean image of their devices in order to sell them. What
we have found over the years is that once you get behind that shiny cover,
the story is very different."
The level of phthalate esters, which are linked to birth defects, in the
plastic coating of iPhone headphone wires is greater than that allowed in
toys or childcare items sold in Europe, Greenpeace alleged.
The CEH's website said that it "works to hold corporations accountable for
their use of toxic chemicals that endanger public health".
It added: "We challenge corporations to stop polluting or to lower the
toxicity of their consumer products. We motivate change by outreach,
education, and when necessary, legal action under California's Safe Drinking
Water and Toxic Enforcement Act [otherwise known as ‘Proposition 65']."
A notice sent to Apple and the California Attorney-General gives the group
legal standing to sue Apple in 60 days. A lawsuit could force Apple to put
warnings on iPhone packaging, but is unlikely to lead to a product recall.
An Apple spokesman said: "Like all Apple products worldwide, iPhone complies
with RoHS [the EU's Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive], the
world's toughest restrictions on toxic substances in electronics." The
spokesman added that Apple had already pledged to eliminate the use of PVC
and brominated flame retardants by the end of next year.
The campaigners' action may prove embarrassing for Al Gore, a member of
Apple's board, who last week won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on
Apple has sold more than a million iPhones since the device's launch this
summer in the US. This month an iPhone buyer that said she was suing Apple
for $1 million (£490,000) after the company cut the price of the device by
$200 only 68 days after its American launch.
Only hours after Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, unveiled the gadget in
January, Apple was sued by Cisco, which claimed that it owned the "iPhone"
brand. The technology companies settled out of court.
2003 Greenpeace first contacts Apple on chemicals policy
2004 Apple graded red (worst) by Greenpeace on chemicals use
2007 More than 70 non-governmental organisations ask Al Gore, a member
of Apple's board of directors, to support environmental resolutions filed
for the company's annual meeting. They are unanimously rejected