A while back I wrote about all the “fake news“—really, just corporate P.R.—that comes into my email inbox as a result of our work on flame retardants in people’s bodies. Most of the news stories are really just press releases from companies touting the fact that they’d removed PBDEs and other hazardous substances from their products. Any single press release, by itself, is hardly worthy of notice. But viewed as a whole, the steady drumbeat of companies announcing that they’d managed to make their products less toxic seemed like an important, if unheralded, good news story.
So here’s some more “fake news” that just came into my inbox that I thought might be worth mentioning:
Wal-Mart First to Retail Market with Notebook Computer that Restricts the Use of Hazardous Substances
Now, I’m not trying to toot Wal-Mart’s horn; I’m sure that there are plenty of legitimate criticisms of the company’s business practices. Still, the fact that Wal-Mart is selling computers that comply with Europe’s toxicity standards strikes me as significant for two reasons. First, Wal-Mart is such a major retailer that this might signal a significant boost in sales of less-toxic computer equipment in North America. And second, the fact that it’s being sold by Wal-Mart probably means that this computer meets the retailer’s standards for cost efficiency—which probably means that this computer not only meets European toxicity standards, but does so at little added cost compared with similar models. And this second point—that manufacturers can reduce hazardous materials in consumer products without adding major costs—really does seem worthy of note.