Apple bans use of two hazardous chemicals in iPhone production

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2014
Following pressure from activist groups, Apple on Wednesday announced the ban of two potentially hazardous chemicals -- n-hexane and benzene -- from being used in overseas factories during the final stages of iPhone production.

AuditWorker prepares iPhone for final assembly. | Source: Apple Supplier Responsibility Report


According to a report from the Associated Press, Apple has restricted iPhone partner suppliers in Asia from using the two chemicals as part of the production process, potentially saving workers from permanent damage.

The move comes five months after a petition started by China Labor Watch and Green America called for the company to stop using the chemicals as part of iPhone production. Apple says it conducted a four-month investigation into the issue, finding the chemicals did not endanger the roughly 500,000 workers building its products across 22 factories. Despite the study's conclusion, Apple has decided to remove n-hexane and benzene from the iPhone assembly process.

According to the report, benzene can cause leukemia, while n-hexane is a neurotoxin sometimes tied to nerve damage. The application of potentially dangerous chemicals by Apple partner suppliers, specifically Foxconn's use of n-hexane, gained media attention when entertainer Mike Daisey fabricated claims about workers being exposed to the substance in a critique of working conditions throughout Apple's supply chain.

In 2010, Apple supplier Wintek revealed it had treated workers exposed to n-hexane after 44 workers threatened to sue over exposure to the chemical. At the time, it was reported that some 62 workers were hospitalized for months as a result of being poisoned by n-hexane, which they were supposedly forced to use because it it dries faster and cleaner than safer alternatives like alcohol.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    Cue the Apple bashing in 3-2-1...
  • Reply 2 of 39
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,581member
    ...0...
  • Reply 3 of 39
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    APPLE SHOULD STOP USING ALUMINUM BECAUSE THE DUST CAN EXPLODE.

  • Reply 4 of 39
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,581member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

    APPLE SHOULD STOP USING ALUMINUM BECAUSE THE DUST CAN EXPLODE.


     

    <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" /> <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" /> <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

  • Reply 5 of 39

    Any dust can explode...

  • Reply 6 of 39
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,328member
    Any dust can explode...

    Well not any dust. It has to be oxidizable.
  • Reply 7 of 39
    customtbcustomtb Posts: 336member
    The glass they use will cut your fingers when it shatters and you can't get a genius appt for 3 days... Just sayin.
  • Reply 8 of 39
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,199member
    Will all the Physical Chemists raise their hand? If not, STFU.
  • Reply 9 of 39

    I think Apple is doing the right thing.

    Wouldn't want this hanging over a company's reputation:

    http://zoominkorea.org/movie-another-promise-the-empire-of-shame/

  • Reply 10 of 39
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,401member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Brent McAnulty View Post

     

    Any dust can explode...




    Not true.  Only dust specifically from Apple products.



    Don't believe me?  Just ask the Fandroids.  ;)

  • Reply 11 of 39
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member

    This is yet another tragic case of Apple surrendering and pandering to external extremist pressure and unsavory outside influences for the second day in a row. 

     

    Was it not bad enough that Apple decided to give into racists yesterday? Today they are yielding to anti-globalization lunatics and green fools who spend their days bashing big companies.

     

    After a four month investigation into the issue, the findings were that the chemicals did not endanger the roughly 500,000 workers. Why did Apple not stick to their guns and allow the continued use of these chemicals if they were not dangerous? Apple took the lunatic's concerns seriously and they even conducted an investigation. What was the point in the four month investigation, if not to abide by its findings?

     

    I went to the home page real quick of the group called China Labor Watch and they're still bashing Apple and other companies on their front page. So this surrender by Apple and giving into these lunatics is not even appreciated by the ungrateful lunatics. 

     

    I remember reading that at a share holder meeting, a conservative group wanted Apple to give up on green initiatives that didn't contribute to the bottom line, and Tim Cook got angry and basically told the group to get lost. I happened to agree with Tim Cook in that particular instance, but I see a disturbing pattern developing.

     

    Apple seems to give into all sorts of leftist extremist groups, such as racist groups and environmental groups. Apple will bend over backwards to accommodate these extremists, Apple is afraid to tell them to get lost, even when studies suggest that there is nothing wrong. But when a conservative group has a suggestion, then Apple is not afraid to vocally tell them to get lost.

     

    Where is Apple's balls when it comes to telling extremist leftist groups to take a hike?

     

    Is this what Apple means by diversity?

  • Reply 12 of 39
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,648member

    Both of these chemicals have numerous harmful, carcinogenic, mutagenic and or teratogenic properties.  Yes, with careful and expensive practices these chemicals can be handled safely.  I have worked in a lab where benzene was used as a reagent to calibrate various test instruments. This was at a low concentration and we still wore full face masks, gloves and aprons and only handled it under a fume hood. This was in the late 70s and it was considered bad stuff even then and at a big industrial chemical plant no less.  They knew it was bad and took the necessary precautions.  

     

    What ever caused Apple to cease using these chemicals, it is a good thing that they have.  They are showing that companies can make hard decisions like this and still get the products made and the profits collected.  If some outside group forced their hand then so be it. What difference does it make really?  Apple handled this the way they do everything:  The look at the situation, analyze the costs, risks and benefits and make a decision they consider best for them and the world in general. There is more to corporate existence than just the bottom line and they just proved it.

  • Reply 13 of 39
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post

    What ever caused Apple to cease using these chemicals, it is a good thing that they have.  

     

    I believe that the product should always come first.

     

    What were these chemicals replaced with? Are the substitutes equally as good and effective?

     

    Does the elimination of the chemicals in any way, shape or form contribute to a lesser phone?

     

    Will this lead to a slow down in production and yields, because it is possibly being replaced by an inferior substance and method? Apple's suppliers need to be pumping out as many phones as possible. We don't need to be reading about any yield issues or production slow downs on this site in the weeks and months to come.

     

    There are a lot of crazy people out there. Some people don't even believe in having their children vaccinated. But I find it to be sad that Apple is giving into paranoid people and extremist groups. Apple's own investigation found that everything was fine, yet they choose to pander to these crazy people and proven liars like Mike Daisy with his fabricated lies about Apple.

  • Reply 14 of 39
    [SIZE=4][COLOR=blue]Benzene - If Apple keeps this up pretty soon they will be having benzene removed from sports and energy drinks![/COLOR][/SIZE]
  • Reply 15 of 39
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,648member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

     

     

    I believe that the product should always come first.

     

    What were these chemicals replaced with? Are the substitutes equally as good and effective?

     

    Does the elimination of the chemicals in any way, shape or form contribute to a lesser phone?

     

    Will this lead to a slow down in production and yields, because it is possibly being replaced by an inferior substance and method? Apple's suppliers need to be pumping out as many phones as possible. We don't need to be reading about any yield issues or production slow downs on this site in the weeks and months to come.

     

    There are a lot of crazy people out there. Some people don't even believe in having their children vaccinated. But I find it to be sad that Apple is giving into paranoid people and extremist groups. Apple's own investigation found that everything was fine, yet they choose to pander to these crazy people and proven liars like Mike Daisy with his fabricated lies about Apple.


    It is very doubtful that Apple would make this change if doing so had any serious impact on their business.  Tim Cook "The King of Operations" would not stand for this.  Also, I think it is certainly your choice to view this as Apple "caving" to "extremist groups", but again it is doubtful that Apple looks at it this way.  I certainly don't - it's really more of a PR victory.

  • Reply 16 of 39
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post

     

    It is very doubtful that Apple would make this change if doing so had any serious impact on their business. 


     

    I agree that it probably wont have any significant impact on their business, otherwise Apple obviously wouldn't have done it.

     

    But, even if it had a 1% negative impact on production yield, then I would be against it.

     

    Anyway, my opinion doesn't really matter in this instance, since this is a done deal it seems.:smokey:

  • Reply 17 of 39
    blitz1blitz1 Posts: 410member
    apple ][ wrote: »
    I believe that the product should always come first.

    Does the elimination of the chemicals in any way, shape or form contribute to a lesser phone?

    What kind of person are you?
    People and their well being come first. Always!
  • Reply 18 of 39
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blitz1 View Post



    What kind of person are you?

    People and their well being come first. Always!

     

    I am an awesome person. A person who believes in scientific fact and not ignorant liberal nonsense and voodoo.

     

    The investigation concluded that these chemicals were not dangerous to the workers, so there is no issue here really, besides pandering to ignorant groups.

     

    And I don't fully agree that people always comes first. That's not the way it is in the real world. Take a look around. And besides, Chinese factory workers are a dime a dozen. There's no shortage of workers looking for work at various factories in China that are Apple suppliers.

  • Reply 19 of 39
    apple ][ wrote: »
    I am an awesome person. A person who believes in scientific fact and not ignorant liberal nonsense and voodoo.

    The investigation concluded that these chemicals were not dangerous to the workers, so there is no issue here really, besides pandering to ignorant groups.

    And I don't fully agree that people always comes first. That's not the way it is in the real world. Take a look around. And besides, Chinese factory workers are a dime a dozen. There's no shortage of workers looking for work at various factories in China that are Apple suppliers.
    It doesn't sound much like it's affecting Apple's bottom-line so I'm ok with it. Are they pandering here? I guess that's debateable but I think Apple did the right thing here.
  • Reply 20 of 39
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Lord Amhran View Post





    It doesn't sound much like it's affecting Apple's bottom-line so I'm ok with it. Are they pandering here? I guess that's debateable but I think Apple did the right thing here.

     

    I fully agree that this is not going to affect Apple's bottom line. I'm not worried about my Apple stock at all, quite the contrary. I see AAPL moving past $100 soon, and then continuing on.

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