Human Life Requires 26 Essential Elements, an iPhone Requires 75

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Human beings are highly intelligent and complex life forms, but their existence relies on just 26 of the 118 known elements. Manufacturing an iPhone, though? That requires 75 elements, a number of which are not only essential, they have no substitutes.

YouTube channel DNews is dedicated to answering the questions we all ask but don't know how to find the answer to, including "Why it takes 75 elements to make your cell phone." You can watch the video explaining why below:

I think we all know by now that smartphones in general are not great for the environment, but the breakdown of elements helps to explain why. As well as being difficult to recycle completely, phones rely on conflict minerals and rare earth minerals in order to function.

Gaining access to these minerals involves dealing with mining operations that have less than great track records, hence the "conflict" tag. Human rights issues and environmental damage, both during mining and when failing to deal with the resulting waste responsibly, continue to be major concerns. And when demand for these minerals is high, it's very difficult to work exclusively with companies who can guarantee the materials they supply aren't linked to questionable mining practices.

As Motherboard points out, China is the main source for many of these minerals, and it's here that environmental laws are poor and residents local to the mines are suffering from the effects of radioactive waste.

DNews also highlights the fact smartphones rely on rare earth minerals which have no substitute. So if we ran out of minerals such as europium, gadolinium, terbium, or yttrium, manufacturers would be left scratching their heads as to how to move forwards and continue to mass produce phones, or tablets, or any other electronics device that relies on their inclusion.

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