Often used in solvents, benzene and n-hexane can reportedly cause cancer and nerve damage, if not handled properly.
In what appears to be a significant step by Apple to improve worker safety, the company has decided to stop using benzene and n-hexane - chemicals known to cause cancer and nerve damage - on its popular products.
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According to the Associated Press, Apple will ban the use of the two chemicals during the final assembly phase of its iPhones and iPads. Earlier this year, activist groups China Labor Watch and Green America launched a petition campaign urging Apple to banish benzene and n-hexane in its production process.
Apple responded by conducting a four-month investigation at 22 of its factories. It found that the chemicals weren't used in 18 factories. Moreover, the amounts of the chemicals discovered at the four factories were within acceptable safety levels.
In spite of the results, Apple decided to ban the use of the chemicals during the final assembly (note: final). Apple is also requiring the rest of its factories around the world to undergo testing. Often used in solvents, benzene and n-hexane can reportedly cause cancer and nerve damage.
In a statement, Apple's Vice President of Environmental Initiatives said that Apple is doing everything it can to crack down chemical exposures.
"We think it's really important that we show some leadership and really look toward the future by trying to use greener chemistries," she told the Associated Press.
However, it's worth noting that Apple will still use the chemicals during the early production of its products (note: early). Apple will solve this by lowering the maximum amount of benzene and n-hexane, reports the Associated Press.
Nevertheless, activists have branded the decision as a good step.
"This is a good first step. I hope they will continue to remove the most dangerous chemicals to human health or find ways to reduce the exposure," said Elizabeth O'Connell, a campaign director at Green America.
Source: Associated Press