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Intel to launch environmentally friendly chips

Intel will reduce the amount of lead in its chips by 95 percent later this year, the company said Wednesday, responding to demands for more environmentally friendly electronic goods.
/ Source: Reuters

For environmental reasons, Intel Corp. plans to reduce the amount of lead in its microprocessors and chip sets by 95 percent starting this year.

The move is targeted at reducing lead that is released into the environment after computers and other devices are tossed out. Ingestion or inhalation of the heavy metal by children has been attributed to behavioral disorders, brain damage and death.

Intel has already removed the lead from its flash memory products, which are primarily used in consumer electronics such as cell phones. Its latest plans involve microprocessors and chip sets, which handle the flow of data between the processor and the rest of a computer.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip maker, the world’s biggest, said it is working with the rest of the industry to remove the remaining amount of lead that’s needed to connect the processor’s core with its packaging.

“Our goal has been to develop a total solution that addresses the needs and concerns of our customers and suppliers, from the package materials to motherboard manufacturing,” said Nasser Grayeli, vice president and director of Intel’s technology and manufacturing group.

Lead has been used for more than a century in electrical devices, but its effects on health have prompted efforts to find a safer and reliable replacement.

A European Union directive requires manufacturers to ban the use of six specified hazardous substances, including lead, after July 2006.

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition applauded Intel’s decision but said the computer industry has a long way to go before becoming environmentally friendly.

“There are over 1,000 chemicals that go into making a computer and many of them are hazardous,” said Sheila Davis, director of the group’s Clean Computer Campaign. “We don’t know what the overall impact of all those chemicals is on the environment.”