Press Releases

More Headphone Cords Found in Violation of California Toxics Law

Oakland, CA- The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) today announced that independent lab testing has found that headphone cords made by Plantronics, Inc. of Santa Cruz, and iRun headphone cords, made by Sakar International of Edison, NJ, contain high levels of phthalates, a family of chemicals that can disrupt the normal functions of hormones and cause reproductive damage. CEH initiated legal action today against Plantronics and Sakar International today under California’s Proposition 65 law, which names two phthalates found in the headphone cords as chemicals known to cause reproductive harm.

“These headphone cords can pose a hazard to consumers, and may be especially harmful to pregnant women and young children,” said Caroline Cox, Research Director for CEH. “There is no reason to have these toxic chemicals hanging around our necks.”

Among the potential health effects of phthalates are premature birth and early puberty in women and girls; in men and boys phthalates can cause impaired sperm quality and sperm damage, genital defects and reduced testosterone production.

In the Plantronic headphone cord, the levels of two phthalates, di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP, also known as Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), were 0.8% and 0.4%, respectively. The level of DEHP in the iRun cord was 5.5%. Last year, California passed a law prohibiting more than 0.1% of either DEHP or DBP in products for young children. CEH is warning parents to keep headphone cords away from young children.

Since last fall, CEH has tested six brands of headphone cords, finding some made with low or undetectable levels of phthalates. “Since some cords do not pose this health threat, it’s clear that there are alternatives to these toxic phthalates,” said Cox.

Last year, CEH initiated legal action against Apple for its iPhone and iPod headphone cords with phthalate levels similar to those announced today. The nonprofit’s negotiations with Apple are ongoing. CEH’s legal work under Prop 65 has also recently uncovered lead threats to children from toys, vinyl baby bibs, children’s lunchboxes, children’s jewelry and other products.

CEH has a ten-year track record of protecting children from hidden health hazards in consumer products and protecting communities from health hazards related to toxic pollution. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices.

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