October 3rd, 2012

iPhone 5 Has Less Toxins than Galaxy S III

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Groovy Green Livin iPhone

We have an ongoing debate in our house about which mobile phone is best. One of us is a Samsung believer and the other is an  iPhone devotee.  To help us find some closure the Ecology Center and  ifixit.com teamed up to research toxic chemicals in 36 different cell phones, including the  iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III. The results were released at HealthyStuff.org.

The study found that the iPhone 5 prevailed-coming in as the 5th safest phone, versus the Samsung Galaxy S III, which ranked 9th.

The Motorola Citrus ranked the least toxic phone followed by the iPhone 4 S and the LG Remarq. The most toxic phone tested was the iPhone 2G.

Groovy Green Livin HealthyStuff.org Phone Ratings iPhone

“Even the best phones from our study are still loaded with chemical hazards,” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org. “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.”

Most of the 36 cell phones analyzed were models released in the last 5 years. The phones tested represent 10 mobile phone manufacturers, including: Apple, Hewlett-Packard Development Company, HTC Corporation, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia Corporation, Palm, Research in Motion and Samsung Electronics. The sample represents the largest set ever released for any electronic product. In total, 1,105 samples were analyzed for 35 different chemicals and elements. The phones were completely disassembled and interior and exterior components were tested using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF).

“Consumer demand for more sustainable mobile phones is driving companies to produce better products,” said Gearhart. “We also need better federal and international policy to manage both chemicals and e-waste, as well as to promote sustainable design.”

According to HealthyStuff.org these were the highlights from the study:

  • 100% of cell phones tested contain chemical hazards.
  • Samsung phones had the highest average rating of all phone tested.
  • Apple, now among industry leaders, showed the greatest improvement.The iPhone 2G, introduced in 2007 rated as the poorest phone tested. The two most recent Apple phones, the 4s and 5, are among the best phones tested.
  • Newer phones are better than older phones. Overall product ratings have improved significantly (33%) since 2007.This reflects an increased focus on reducing chemical hazards by the industry.
  • Transition to safer alternatives is underway. Leading manufacturers, including Apple, Sony, Samsung and others have started the shift to safer materials and chemistries.
What type of phone do you have? Will this study impact your next cell phone purchase? 

photo credit: Mr. T in DC via photopin cc


12 Responses to “iPhone 5 Has Less Toxins than Galaxy S III”

  1. I have a Motorola non-smartphone (not on the list) that is at least 3 years old. I will keep this list in mind when I eventually decide to upgrade.

  2. gosh, thank you! It’s something I@d never really thought about. I have an old Blackberry, around 3 years old and tend to favour keeping gadgets for as long as possible without replacing unnecessarily to be as ‘green’ as possible, but you’ve taken things to a whole nother level! Thanks for sharing your findings with us 🙂
    mrs green @littlegreenblog.com recently posted..Eating vegan for a dayMy Profile

  3. I’ve always known in the back of my mind about a connection between cell phones and toxicity but haven’t thought about it beyond that. Been so busy focusing on getting rid of plastic usage and eating clean, whole foods this has been on the back burner. I’m happy to learn my I-phone 4 is near the top, will upgrade within the year. Thanks for putting this info out there!
    Tanya recently posted..31 Days: Reducing your Carbon Foot Print – Day 3 :: Reducing (Plastic) Part IMy Profile

  4. Thanks for bringing up this important topic, Lori. The big question mark for me is, of these 36 phones, how different is the best one from the worst one? How much more toxic is the worst one? What I’m trying to get at is, how much of a difference does it really make to choose one of the top 5 over one that’s lower down the list? My worry is that all phones are still so toxic that what makes the biggest difference is that we keep buying them every year. I heard a statistic that people replace their phones every 8 months… shocking! That’s where the problem is.

  5. Happy to see that there isn’t much of a difference between the iPhone5 and the Galaxy S III (which I just bought) – your headline scared me! Really glad I ditched the Blackberry Storm though! 🙂
    Micaela @MindfulMomma recently posted..New Sponsor: Green Leaf Living {+ a Giveaway!}My Profile

  6. I’m a Blackberry user,but definitely find this very interesting. When it’s time to make a switch I plan to look closely at Motorola, so I’m glad to see it at the top of the list. (or at least one of them is at the top.)
    Cathy recently posted..Ford’s Drive One 4 Ur School Fundraising EventMy Profile

  7. Hi Cathy, The list is interesting-and frightening! Technology changes so quickly we are going to need a new list soon!

  8. Hi Micaela, There wasn’t a huge difference between the two phones. The Galaxy S III looks amazing. How are you liking it? That Storm was ready for a rest 🙂

  9. Hi Andrea, I always love your thoughtful comments. I think you make an important point-every one of these phones are toxic in some way. I’ve heard that statistic too. We are disposing of these toxic phones at a rapid pace. If they’re not recycled properly the toxins can leach into the soil, waterways and other areas of the earth. That is a huge problem.

  10. Hi Tanya, There’s a lot to consider when going green! I think having all the info is important-then we can make educated decisions when we purchase a product. What phone is next on your list?

  11. Hi Mrs. Green, You’re so welcome. I think you’re one of the few that hold onto gadgets for as long as possible. That is very green of you. As Andrea said, most people get a new phone every 8 months or so.

  12. Hi Marsha, Curious to hear what you end up getting and if it’s a smartphone 🙂

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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