By Fredrica Syren:
Apple has made big announcements about how they are taking steps towards going green lately. So, when two activist groups —China Labor Watch and Green America—pressured them to investigate the use of the hazardous chemicals benzene and n-hexane during the final production stage of their devices in overseas factories, they complied. This potentially could save workers from permanent damage.
Apple conducted a four-month investigation but did not find that their roughly 500,000 workers had been affected. Even so, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, Lisa Jackson, did announce that they have made a decision to ban these two chemicals from iPhone and iPad creation, thereby taking a small step towards greener and safer production practice. In an interview with the Associated Press, Jackson said, “We think it’s really important that we show some leadership and really look toward the future by trying to use greener chemistries.”
Benzene is known to cause acute and long-term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer and aplastic anemia. Ingestion of and other exposure to –n-hexane can cause nausea, vertigo, bronchial irritation, intestinal irritation and even nerve damage. Sadly, Apple is not unique in using these harmful chemicals: they also are used in the production of electronic products sold by other large technology companies. There are more than 42 million tons of Benzene produced annually world wide.