Toxic Chemicals in Mobile Phones – Are We Safe?

It has always been known since inception that cell phones in addition to emitting radiations which may be harmful, also contain as part of their components, chemicals that are potentially harmful to the human body. Such chemicals as lead, mercury, bromine etc. some of these chemicals go into making the battery that powers the device while others are integral part of the phone components. While there had been a lot of outcry on the assumed safety or otherwise of the radiations emitted by the mobile phones, little has been mentioned about the chemical components in the phones which are already known to be hazardous to humans. The ugly thing is that these chemicals are there and are potential dangers right from the production line through the storage, and throughout the useful life of the phones. The harmful effects even extend beyond their useful life when they become environmental hazards as waste products. Thankfully, many countries have realized the evil effects of e-wastes and are refusing them. But countries like china etc which actively encourage importation of e-wastes for recycling are at risks from the negative effects of these chemicals. Unfortunately, these same countries do not have a very stringent environmental and industrial laws in place.

For the first time, we are seeing that people have finally woken up to the facts that these real and present dangers need to be studied with the aim of informing the public so that legislations could be passed in many countries regulating the use of these chemicals by the manufacturers.

A report was published online today by and citing the work done by a combined team of technical gurus from the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center and The team did a research on toxic chemicals in 36 different cell phones, including the recently released iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III.

The video given in the link below with narration by Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Centre and founder of, is revealing and self explanatory.





Jeff Gearhart further said: ““Even the best phones from our study are still loaded with chemical hazards,” He continued “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.”

The results of their tests is quite revealing and is given pictorially below so that you can see for yourselves.


So we ask: are mobile phones really that safe as the makers want us to believe?
Is there no way for the makers to use more environmentally friendly components?
Let’s have your comments on this issue. Your suggestions may just be what is needed to effect a change for the better and safeguard our life and our future.


Detailed analysis of the study which we encourage all to read can be found here

Acknowledgement: Our thanks goes to Ibukun Olaoya, @Eye_Bee_Kay on twitter, for the heads up.


5 comments for “Toxic Chemicals in Mobile Phones – Are We Safe?

  1. October 4, 2012 at 6:27 am

    I have always felt that urbanisation plays a prominent role in the drastically reduced life expectancy in most developing (and developed too!)countries.

    As was tightly pointed out in this article, there is the need for government to wake up to their responsibilities and safeguard the environment as regards toxic non bio_degradable wastes that are being spilled into the ecosystem.

    There will always be manufacturers that care less about the environment. it is only governments than can put them in check.

    the infernal gas flaring in Nigeria comes to mind.

    Honestly I do no feel that Nigeria is being frontal in addressing such issues. Direct and evident Environmental Degradation are not being tackled! how much less those that are more nebulous?

    In the metropolis, we see vehicles emitting noxious fumes. Nobody says anything. Generators spill their potentially carcinogenic contents into the atmosphere almost non stop. we siddon look.

    who is in charge of Environmental Impact Assessment? I mean truly in charge. I am not talking about toothless governmentagencies here! These agencies need to be strengthened, empowered and enabled!

    let us hope government start being proactive about these.

    at the individual level, we can also try and protect ourvenvironment in all ways possible!

  2. Harry Echemco
    October 4, 2012 at 9:48 am

    This is a very sensitive and complex issue.

  3. October 4, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Yes, Harry. It is a complex issue. And with the amount of money, and relentless lobby being done by the Herculean Mobile Tech companies, it would be difficult to unravel the truth. Yes, some of them will even fund research to disprove all these.

    We all need to be careful. That’s all!

  4. Eye_Bee_Kay
    November 9, 2015 at 10:53 am

    The quest for profit has traditionally been at variance with the decisions that would reduce the bottomline, no

    Unfortunately, commerce plays a big role in formulating government policies, so the evils of modernization may just be what we have to endure. Using recyclable and biodegradable materials are sometimes commercially not tenable.

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