Friday, October 5, 2012

05:10:2012 - Chemical breakdown: The toxic substances inside your mobile phone

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Be Well.

Chemical breakdown: The toxic substances inside your mobile phone

  • Researchers carry out analysis of 36 mobile phones to determine which contain the most toxic chemicals in their components
  • iPhone 5 ranked fifth cleanest in the league table - compared to ninth for nearest competitor the Samsung Galaxy S III
  • Many chemicals contained in mobile phone handsets are linked to birth defects and health problems
  • Much of the waste is sent to the developing world for recycling, where there is lax regulation and environmental safeguards 
PUBLISHED: 15:03 GMT, 5 October 2012 UPDATED: 15:27 GMT, 5 October 2012
When you look at your sleek, shiny phone it may look clean - excepting perhaps a few scuffs and smears from normal wear and tear.
But look below the surface and you will find an interior that is far more toxic than most people realise.
Researchers have undertaken a chemical analysis of 36 mobile handsets - including the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III - to find out which ones pose the most risk to the health of humans and our environment.

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Researchers from and ifixit analysed the chemicals inside leading phones, giving them a chemical ranking for how environmentally friendly they are.
Researchers from and ifixit analysed the chemicals inside leading phones, giving them a chemical ranking for how environmentally friendly they are.
The researchers analysed 30 different handsets for the research, including the bestselling Samsung Galaxy S3
The researchers analysed 30 different handsets for the research, including the bestselling Samsung Galaxy S3

Ubiquitous electronic gadgets harbour a staggering array of toxic chemicals, from hazardous flame retardants, PVC and bromine to heavy metals like lead, tin and chromium - and even mercury and cadmium.

However the hazardous ingredients of mobile phones have long been kept under wraps by manufacturers who are tight lipped about the recipes they use for their high-tech components.

The only way to find out then, is to take apart the gadgets and analyse their chemical components - which experts from and have now done. sampled 36 different mobile phones that had been released in the last 5 years. The phones were completely disassembled and interior and exterior components were sampled by X-ray Fluorescence spectrometry - a process which determines the chemical composition of a material.

The team found that more modern phones are far more environmentally friendly - although the latest iPhone does have more harmful chemicals than its predecessor.
The team found that more modern phones are far more environmentally friendly - although the latest iPhone does have more harmful chemicals than its predecessor.


Agbogbloshie is a suburb of Accra, the capital of Ghana and the country's largest city. Above it rises a doomsday column of acrid black smoke - fuelled by burning plastic e-waste.
The area is poisonous, post-apocalyptic hell - a sprawling, toxic dumping ground stretching for a mile or two. This is the final resting place for your old TV, computer or mobile phone.

Piles of cracked computer monitors sit in rancid pools of noxious green slime, while the circuit boards and innards of old PCs leak toxic mercury, beryllium and cadmium, poisoning the earth.

A child in Ghana carries waste electronics cable

Scampering over these mounds of decaying computers are red-eyed gangs of wild, young boys in rags who smash old computer components with rocks to rip out the valuable copper wire inside.

Here they burn the plastic away from computer monitors and plastic encased cables to get to the precious metals inside. 

The combustion releases toxic metals - lead, beryllium, cadmium, mercury - into the atmosphere. Likewise, burning creates some of the most carcinogenic and toxic substances known, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins and furans

This desperate situation here is part of a pattern all over the globe - First World nations dump their electronic rubbish on developing countries, poisoning communities, polluting water sources and causing birth defects, mental retardation and, ultimately, death.

The researchers then ranked the phones on a scale of 0-5 - with lowest being the best - according to three criteria: by chemical, by component and overall.

The Motorola Citrus ranked the least toxic phone followed by the iPhone 4 S and the LG Remarq. The new iPhone 5 ranked 5th - better than its main competitor, Samsung's Galaxy S III, which ranked 9th.

The most toxic phone tested was the iPhone 2G, which was so poisonous it prompted a report by environmental group Greenpeace warning of the environmental dangers it posed.
Every phone sampled in the study contained at least one of following hazardous chemicals: lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury and cadmium.

These hazardous substances can pollute throughout a product’s life cycle, including when the minerals are extracted; when they are processed; during phone manufacturing; and at the end of the phone’s useful life.

Emissions during disposal and recycling of phones as electronic waste, or 'e-waste', are particularly problematic. A 2004 study found that three-quarters of all cell phones leach lead at levels that would qualify them as hazardous waste. 

While tracking e-waste is difficult, it is estimated that 50-80 per cent is exported to countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines, where there is a labour-intensive, informal recycling infrastructure that often lacks environmental and human health safeguards.

Meanwhile, the mining of some tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold vital for use in the manufacture of mobile phones has been linked to bloody conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Centre and founder of, said: 'Even the best phones from our study are still loaded with chemical hazards.

'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.'

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How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:

Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:

Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.



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