A recent Greenpeace report on the presence of hazardous materials in three leading gaming consoles contains good news and bad. First the bad news: the analysis (of Microsoft's Xbox 360, Nintendo's Wii, and Sony's Playstation 3 Elite) turned up beryllium, brominated flame retardants (BFRs), phthalates, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
However, not all of those chemical bad boys were found in every console. The Wii, for example, "managed quite well without using beryllium in its electrical contacts, and use of PVC and phthalates was limited." The PlayStation 3 "included 'bromine-free' circuit boards," and the Xbox 360 "used fewer brominated materials in its housing materials."
That's good news, because it shows the potential for improvement through collaboration. If manufacturers got together and shared their expertise, it would be relatively easy for all of them to replace toxic components with clean ones. (By the way, as the report points out, the dangers posed by these materials lie in their manufacture and disposal, not their household use.)
In other gaming-related enviro-news, Gizmodo highlights this chart from Australian consumer organization Choice comparing the energy usage of common household electronic devices, including the PlayStation, Wii, and Xbox. The Wii comes out on top by a long shot, but the main takeaway is, of course, to turn off your games when you're not playing.