Apple Bans Use of Hazardous Chemicals in iPhone, iPad Assembly
Five months ago, Chinese and American labor right groups petitioned Apple to investigate the use of potentially hazardous materials in its iPhone and iPad assembly process. The company has announced that it will make changes, banning the use of at least two chemicals.
China Labor Watch and Green America asked the company to abandon the use of benzene and n-hexane in the production of the iPhone. These chemicals can also be found in substances including paint strippers, industrial cleaning products and household cleaners. Benzene is a known carcinogen, and n-hexane has been linked to nerve damage.
A four-month investigation at 22 factories found no evidence that benzene and n-hexane endangered the roughly 5,00,000 people who work at the plants, according to Apple. No traces of the chemicals were detected at 18 of the factories and the amounts found at the other four factories fell within acceptable safety levels, the Cupertino, California, company said.
Nevertheless, Apple decided to order its suppliers to stop using benzene and n-hexane during the final assembly of iPhones, iPads, iPods, Mac computers and various other accessories. What’s more, Apple has made it mandatory for all its factories to test all substances to ensure that they don’t contain benzene or n-hexane, even if the chemicals aren’t listed in the ingredients.
“This is doing everything we can think of to do to crack down on chemical exposures and to be responsive to concerns,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We think it’s really important that we show some leadership and really look toward the future by trying to use greener chemistries.”
Jackson also said that they asked manufacturers to find safer alternatives and ban the use of the chemicals in the final assembly process. Apple will require its manufacturers to test all cleaning agents and degreasers before they’re used in production to make sure there are no hidden chemical risks.
Apple is believed to have assembled an advisory board to further reduce the use of toxins in the company’s products and supply chain.