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Apple bans two harmful chemicals from iPhone assembly

‚ÄčThe tech giant banned the use of benzene and n-hexane in the final assembly of its devices and lowered the maximum use in early production phases.
By Ananth Baliga   |   Aug. 14, 2014 at 9:25 AM   |   Comments

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CUPERTINO, Calif., Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Apple decided to ban the use of two harmful chemicals in its iPhone factories, under pressure from China Labor Watch and Green America.

The iPhone maker said that it had conducted a survey in 22 of its finishing facilities and found that the two chemicals, benzene and n-hexane, were found only in low concentrations. Earlier this year, China Labor Watch and Green America had asked Apple to remove the chemicals from its supply chain and use safer alternatives.

Apple said it found "no widespread use of benzene or n-hexane, and no evidence of worker health and safety being put at risk," in an online report. The company said it found the chemicals at four facilities, but in low concentrations that complied with Apple's safety standards.

In manufacturing, these chemicals are used as cleaning agents because of how quickly and easily they evaporate. Benzene has been linked to cancer, leukemia, chromosomal damage and organ damage, and N-Haxane can cause vertigo, drowsiness, and all sorts of nervous system issues.

The ban will take effect Sept. 1 and the company will use safer alternatives to benzene and n-hexane. Apple for the first time released a list of chemicals it regulates at its manufacturing facilities and suppliers.

Green America and other groups demanded that the company be more transparent about the chemicals it used. It also asked the company to create a fund to help workers with health ailments and injuries. The group joined forces with China Labor Watch to stage a protest outside an Apple store in New York.

Follow @antbaliga and @UPI on Twitter.
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