Greenpeace: Notebooks Contain High Levels of Toxins

A recent study by Greenpeace found high levels of toxic substances in popular notebook computers, singling out products from Hewlett-Packard and Apple Computers.

Hackers arent the only danger coming from computers, environmental watchdog Greenpeace said.

A recent study by Greenpeace found high levels of toxic substances in a number of popular notebook computers, singling out Hewlett-Packard and Apple Computers as having the highest levels of chemicals in companies computer components.

The study, which was conducted in March 2006 by a Danish laboratory, look at five different notebooks: Acer Aspire 5670 Series, the Apple MacBook Pro, the Dell Latitude D810, the HP Pavilion dv4000 Series and the Sony VAIO VGN-FJ Series.

The Sept. 18 study, entitled "Toxic Chemicals in Computers Exposed," found that an HP Pavilion notebook had high levels of various BFR (brominated flame retardant) chemicals in the components as well as noticeable levels of lead in computers soldering.

As for the Apple MacBook Pro that Greenpeace examined, the study found high levels of BFRs in the laptops fan.

The chemical BFR has replaced PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) as a major flame retardant and is used throughout the electronic industry.

Although BFR is an affected flame retardant, Greenpeace and other environmental groups believe that long-term exposure to the chemical can cause harm to the environment and to a persons health.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about eWEEKs special report on the greening of the data center.

"Many of the chemicals found in the laptops, including lead, PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) and BRFs, are hazardous to health and persist in the environment," according to a statement by Greenpeace, which is based in Amsterdam.

The Greenpeace study looked for chemicals and other toxic substances monitored under the European Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment—otherwise known as the RoHs Directive. The new law went into effect on July 1, 2006.

In its study, Greenpeace said it was not looking for compliance with the RoHS Directive, but used the laws as a basis for its survey and testing.

In a statement, and HP spokesperson said: "All HP products in the EU are currently in compliance with regulations such as the RoHS Directive, implemented July 1, 2006."

The HP spokesperson said the Pavilion notebook used in the Greenpeace study is no longer in production.

"The particular notebook in question was an older product that is no longer in production," the spokesperson wrote in a statement to eWEEK.

"It was not intended to be EU RoHS compliant when manufactured and it has since been replaced by a newer-generation product that is RoHS compliant."

The statement also noted that in 1998, HP started its General Specification for the Environment, which the Palo Alto, Calif., computer maker said restricts its suppliers use of a number of potentially hazardous substances in HP products.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about how Dell and other companies have joined AMD to make technology environmentally better.

Greenpeace said that HP had ranked high in previous environmental reports but had slipped in an Aug. 25 reported called "Guide to Greener Electronics."

In its statement, Greenpeace said it "wants the electronics industry to design products that are greener and last longer and which are easy to recycle.

"Greenpeace is calling on the electronics industry to go beyond the EU RoHS directive and eliminate all hazardous chemicals, including all type of BFRs and PVC plastic."

An Apple spokesperson said the company had no comment on the report.

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