According to CNET, “Benzene and n-hexane are chemicals thought to cause cancer and nerve damage, and they both have been used in the final assembly of Apple’s iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Mac computers — until now.”The ban of the chemicals — which are commonly used in everything from gasoline and cigarettes to household items like paint and glue — primarily impacts the factory line workers who handle the later stages of production for these devices.
The Associated Press reports, “A four-month investigation at 22 factories found no evidence that benzene and n-hexane endangered the roughly 500,000 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.”
Still, however, third-party supplier facilities have agreed to the ban. Most of these factories are located in China. Additionally, four of the plants affected were located in the United States, United Kingdom, and Brazil.
While Apple has banned the chemicals in its primary manufacturing processes, it will still allow low levels of the chemicals in some early stages of product assembly. Early-phase production takes place in hundreds of factories.
The investigation was initiated after the organization Green America circulated a petition that garnered the support of nearly 23,000 people. The appeal was initially meant to put a spotlight on the chemicals used to manufacture iPhones; however, the call-to-action highlighted the use of these carcinogens in many other Apple devices, as well.
The proposed new process was later supported by Apple’s vice president of green initiatives, Lisa Jackson.
This isn’t the first time Apple passed environmentally friendly policies. CNN Money notes, “In its effort towards the use of green materials, Apple previously developed power cords without including PVC, displays without mercury and enclosures without brominated flame retardants.”