We've all heard the stories about iPods sparking and catching on fire, but would you have guessed that there are some 800 pages of documents from the Consumer Product Safety Commission detailing all the different cases? The documents have been released after attempts by Apple's lawyers to keep them on the downlow.
iPods smoking and bursting into flames: freak accidents, or more common than we think? It's at least the former, but according to a recent disclosure by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there may in fact be far more of these incidents than previously thought. Apple's legal team appears to have tried to keep the information under wraps, too, though the CPSC itself doesn't yet consider the issue to be a serious one.
The CPSC sent KIRO 7 Eyewitness News some 800 pages of documentation over smoking, burning, and exploding iPods this week in response to a Freedom Of Information Act request. In fact, the request was first submitted this past December—more than seven months ago—but was continually delayed "because Apple’s lawyers filed exemption after exemption." It's unclear whether the 800 pages are comprehensive or whether there's more. Regardless, they apparently reveal enough to anger a number of victims even more, because the incidents continued long after they reported their own issues to Apple.
The documents detail cases of varying severity. People getting shocked by iPod shuffles. An iPod catching fire on a ship "with over 2,000 persons onboard." An iPod nano bursting into flames in someone's pocket. Children and minors getting burned. The incidents are all over the map and include both new and old iPods over a period of several years. Though no serious injuries have been reported to the CPSC—at least according to the 800-page document dump—some users are still very concerned.
"That’s what I’ve been afraid of, is that that could have been a dead child because Apple didn’t care to fix it," Tami Mooney, the mother of a 14-year-old who got burned by an iPod she got for Christmas in 2007, told KIRO 7. "I’m horrified to learn it’s still going on." She said that she believes Apple needs to issue a massive recall.
The CPSC, for its part, does say that Apple is obligated to inform it of any defects that could create a substantial hazard. However, according to the Commission's own investigation, there is not currently a serious cause for concern. "[T]he number of incidents is extremely small in relation to the number of products produced, making the risk of injury very low," the CPSC wrote.
We here at Ars can't say we have heard any stories from readers about iPods turning into roman candles, but perhaps we haven't been listening hard enough. (I did bleed once after running for too long with an iPod shuffle pressed against my skin—maybe I should sue!) Do you have any stories to share?