Apple Bans Two Chemicals From Use in iPhone Production
After continued pressure from activist groups and petition that claimed that over 1.5 million workers who work in Apple’s supplier factories in China were exposed to potentially hazardous chemicals used in those factories, Apple has banned the use of two toxic chemicals — benzene and n-hexane — from the production of iPhones and iPads.
The two activist groups that have been calling upon Apple to ban the use of hazardous chemicals to protect workers are China Labor Watch and Green America. They specifically mentioned benzene and n-hexane to be banned from the use. These toxins have been known to cause leukemia, nerve damage and kidney failure.
Apple said it had been looking into the issue for four months during which it investigated 22 factories but found no evidence that benzene and n-hexane risked the worker’s lives. No traces of benzene and n-hexane were found at 18 factories and the amount found at the remaining 4 factories was at safe level.
Even so, Apple has ordered its suppliers to stop using these two chemicals in the final assembly of the products like iPhones, iPads, iPods, Mac computers and various accessories. Moreover, Apple is requiring its factories to test all substances ensuring that they don’t contain traces of benzene and n-hexane, even if the chemicals are not listed in the ingredients.
However, Apple has not banned the use of these chemicals from the whole production process. The chemicals can still be used in the early phases of the production. These substances are found in solvents used to clean electronics and polishing components like touch screens.
Four of the factories affected by this ban are located in Ireland, Texas, Brazil and California. All the remaining factories are located in China where the company has faced criticism for using potentially hazardous chemicals that harm the workers.
“This is doing everything we can think of to do to crack down on chemical exposures and to be responsive to concerns. We think it’s really important that we show some leadership and really look toward the future by trying to use greener chemistries,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Apple has recently banned a number of toxins like arsenic, lead, and phthalates, but they still rely on other hazardous chemicals that are used in manufacturing of devices.
“This is a good first step,” said Elizabeth O’Connell, Green America’s campaign director America. “I hope they will continue to remove the most dangerous chemicals to human health or find ways to reduce the exposure.”
Green America’s petition received 23,000 signatures urging Apple to ban the use of benzene and n-hexane.
According to some chemists, benzene and n-hexanes are not so much toxic and our bodies can detoxify the substance when contacted directly.
This move by Apple might be to ensure that they don’t face further legal issues about the problem. As a precaution, Apple has also reduced the maximum amount of benzene and n-hexane that can be present in the materials.
Source: Associated Press