Thursday, August 21, 2014

Apple to Ban Benzene/N-hexane in iPhone/iPad

Apple news
According to the Associated Press reports, Chinese and American labour groups petitioned Apple to investigate the use of potentially hazardous materials used in its iPhone and iPad assembly process and the company stated that it will make changes banned in the use of at least two of the chemicals, namely benzene and n-hexane which are connected to nerve damage and leukaemia.

Apple on their part, after conducting a four month study were determined that there was no evidence to indicate that these chemicals could be a problem to workers assembling its devices in twenty two factories but all the same would take necessary steps to avoid the problem in future and both the chemicals have been banned from the assembly line.

Toxins like n-hexane is widely used by several manufacturers to clean smudges from screens before packing them in boxes which dries faster than other safer solvents and hence enables the staff to work quickly with less waiting time. This may cause nerve damage and in some severe cases also paralysis. Apple checked that from its twenty two factories, only four of which used it for minor functions which would now be stopped completely to ensure the safety of its workers.

Common Carcinogen Benzene

Besides the two chemicals, another substance, the common carcinogen benzene is used for the coating of certain electronic components. The environmental group, Green America, had earlier this year warned that the exposure to toxic chemicals which were used in the manufacturing process of certain parts in the making of Apple products could lead to nerve damage, cancer as well as reproductive health issues.

Moreover, it was also claimed that staff were not given proper adequate training regarding its use, access to the correct protective equipment. Thereafter, Apple had undertaken to investigate the use of the chemicals at the factories where the final manufacturing of the devices is carried out and did not come across any workers who could be at risk though it was discovered that both the chemicals were being used at the four plants in products which did not list them among their ingredients. In some of the factories they were able to work with managers in opting to safer alternative products with Apple prohibiting the use of benzene and n-hexane as cleaning agents and degreasers in its final assembly process from September.

Chemicals to be used within its Safety Standards 

Benzene is said can be used if found in fewer than 0.1ppm in `breathing zones’ while n-hexane could be used to a concentration of 28ppm, both limits of which represent a tightening of safety standards. Apple, unlike other major electronics makers applies American health and safety standards in its factories outside the USA and is said that it will continue with its policies down the supply chain in future to minimise harmful toxins.

Campaigns director at Green America, Elizabeth O’Connell stated that the announcement together with the preceding investigation portrayed that Apple listens to customers though it needs to go further to create a safe environment at all factories in their chain of supply for the health and safety of all its workers.

 The group also mentioned that they would continue to call Apple to identify and disclose all chemicals that would be used in all their supplier factories and chemicals which seem to be hazardous to health should be replaced with safer alternatives in all their factories.

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