Green group decries health risks of iPhone supply chain

Workers exposed to risks of cancer, nerve damage, reproductive issues, says Green America

Tags: Apple IncorporatedChina
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Green group decries health risks of iPhone supply chain Green America claimed that chemicals used in the manufacturing of iPhones can lead to a range of serious health issues. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  March 16, 2014

An environmental group is calling on Apple Inc to more closely scrutinise the production of its iPhones, after it emerged that some 1m Chinese workers could be exposed to substances linked to a number of serious health issues, The Telegraph reported.

Green America claimed that chemicals used in the manufacturing of the popular smartphones can lead to cancer, nerve damage and reproductive health issues. The group said that employees were sometimes given inadequate training on the use of the chemicals and often did not have access to protective clothing.

Chemicals identified by Green America include n-hexane, which is used to clean handset displays because it evaporates quickly. The solvent can cause nerve damage and, in extreme cases, paralysis, according to Green America. The environmental group also cited the use of benzene, a cancer-linked substance used to coat certain electronic components.

None of the practices convene Chinese health and safety regulations, but Green America is calling on Apple to demand safer chemicals across its supply chain. The group claims the changes would raise the costs by less than $1 per device.

"Apple is a highly popular brand, one that consumers trust and expect to act responsibly," said Elizabeth O'Connell, campaigns director at Green America.

"Apple is also highly profitable so it can easily afford to do right by its workers and make the necessary changes to appeal to its socially-conscious consumers."

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