If CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta had his way, when you unwrapped your new iPod or iPhone this Christmas, there might be the following warning label:
“SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Ingesting or inhaling your iPhone or iPod earbuds may be hazardous to your health.”
The November 9 CNN “American Morning” warned of the dangers of iPods. The screen read “IPOD & IPHONE DANGER – CAN THEY HURT YOU?”
“Hey, if you’ve got an iPod or an iPhone, there’s a new study out this morning that’s raising some health concerns about the ubiquitous white ear phones and also what’s inside the phones themselves,” explained CNN “American Morning” co-anchor John Roberts.
Gupta reported that the cord connecting the earbuds to your iPod contain phthalates, according to the litigious Center for Environmental Health. Phthalates are a substance often used for increasing the flexibility of plastics, but according to an article on macnn.com phthalates “may hinder the sexual development of mammals.”
He also reported the environmental extremist advocacy group Greenpeace had dismantled an iPhone and found traces of bromides and phthalates. No statement from Apple was included in Gupta’s segment, but he did briefly state that Apple intends to end the use of bromides by the end of 2008.
But even Gupta did not say that using an iPod or an iPhone as intended would be dangerous.
“[N]ot such good news for Apple there. But again, remember, as we've been talking about, it’s really hard to quantify just how much of a risk these phthalates are,” Gupta said “Most of the studies have been done on animals. There’s not a human trials that actually show that they might be harmful, but a lot of people worried about it nonetheless.”
Gupta also said most of the studies have been done on rodents so he couldn’t say if these chemicals were something that could cross through skin or if they were something you would have to inhale or ingest to pose a risk.
“Like all Apple products worldwide, iPhone complies with RoHS [Restriction of Hazardous Substances], the world's toughest restrictions on toxic substances in electronics,” an Apple spokesperson, told Macworld. “As we have said, Apple will voluntarily eliminate the use of PVC and BFRs by the end of 2008.”
“So the immediate takeaway is, don’t eat your iPhone or your earbuds?” asked Roberts.
“Or breathe it in,” Gupta replied.