Ranking the 36 phones tested
What chemicals are used to manufacture your smartphone? It's a valid question and one that iFixit, helped by HealthyStuff.org, answered by breaking down 36 different models, including the Apple iPhone 5
. The toxic nature of some of these chemicals continues to poison some assembly line workers
who use n-hexane to clean glass while assembling a handset. The good news is that newer models contain much fewer worrisome chemicals. All of the phones that were classified as "high concern" by the testing, were made before 2010. Some of the best scores were found on recently released models including the Apple iPhone 5.
According to iFixit, 130 million cellphones a year are discarded with only 8% recycled correctly. The rest end up in landfills or incinerators
and heavy metals are thus leaked into groundwater or into the air. Some states ban electronics from being dumped in those locations, but 32 states don't have such a law. And as an example of what could happen, iFixit points to over 41,000 acres in Indiana that was contaminated after one firm dumped electrical equipment into a landfill. The contaminant in that case is linked to liver, thyroid, and immune diseases.
Breaking down the Apple iPhone 5
The rankings of the 36 phones show six models that are "low worry" starting with the top ranked Motorola CITRUS
. The rest of the models in that classification are the Apple iPhone 4S
, LG Remarq
, Samsung Captivate
, the Apple iPhone 5 and the properly named Samsung Evergreen
. The six phones on the bottom, those with "high concern" are the OG Apple iPhone, Palm m125, Motorola MOTO W233 Renew
, Nokia N95
, BlackBerry Storm 9530
and the Palm Treo 750
. The rest of the devices in the middle of the pack are of "medium concern".
Looking at the Apple iPhone specifically, heavy metals like lead, chlorine and mercury can be detected throughout the device. Still, with a score of 2.75, it has almost half of the toxic chemicals ranking
of the phone on the bottom of the list. Ironically, that model too is an Apple iPhone. The original model of the handset scored a 5.0.
The chemical composition of phones has improved over time