Feeds

back to article Apple BANS 2 chemicals from iPhone, iPad final assembly line

Apple has reportedly banned its suppliers from using two potentially hazardous chemicals in the final production of the company's iThings. It made the decision to ban benzene and n-hexane from factories where suppliers were building Cupertino's fondleslabs, smartphones, MP3 players and Mac computers after it was claimed that …

Silver badge

Benzene is nasty, fullstop.

Benzene is not "potentially nasty". It is a proven long-term-cumulative carcinogen and mutagen.

Short-term, it's not very toxic. Before its dangers were known, it was used as dry-cleaning fluid. There's still a good few percent of benzene in petrol -- so don't ever use petrol for cleaning things, it's not just a fire hazard!

When benzene gets into your body, it can intercalate itself between bases in your DNA molecules. This can cause a transcription error, next time that DNA is transcribed. And if you are unlucky, the transcription error creates a cancer cell.

9
1
Anonymous Coward

But do I hear the other manufacturers

But do I hear the other manufacturers following suit?

Samsung?

1
1
Silver badge

Re: Benzene is nasty, fullstop.

"And if you are unlucky, the transcription error creates a cancer cell."

Or you might get something awesome like laserbeam eyeballs or the ability to call down lightning on command.

Mutation is like that, apparently.

2
1

Re: But do I hear the other manufacturers

They don't want to follow Apple's lead on this because then they get sued for infringement.

0
3
Devil

Also...

"Benzene is a carcinogenic substance that can cause acute myeloid leukemia and hematotoxicity, while n-hexane is understood to have links to nerve damage"

And oppressive sweatshop slave-labour can lead to worker suicide.

4
9
Bronze badge

Now, if we could only...

...get Apple lawyers to stop using oxygen.

13
0
Silver badge

Stop using hazardous chemicals in the final production

Where they were not using them before.

Will continue to use them where they are using them.

In other news Apple has also stopped using Broccoli in the production of it's iThings.

4
2
Zot
Bronze badge
Childcatcher

Benzene?

That's one of the chemicals commonly used in hydraulic fracturing.

If it's fine to shove into the ground, then it's absolutely fine to use it in factories! :)

0
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: Benzene?

> If it's fine to shove into the ground, then it's absolutely fine to use it in factories! :)

Zot.. Zot.. Zot.. when will you get it ?

We like freedom, free market and regulation free energy. So if you diss Apple - the opressor of choice and walled gardner, you get the upvotes. But if you take potshots (zotshots?) at Fracking... you are batting for the opposite team now (made me think of Kevin P for a second, but I deviate), we don't like you anymore!

/sarchasm

0
6
Zot
Bronze badge

Re: Benzene?

Sorry, I wasn't properly appealing to the mass of Apple hatebois, I was just commenting on the use of carcinogens in general.

1
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Benzene?

Zotty, your comment was fine - but someone had to troll the hatebois, fanbois, deniers, alarmists etc - afterall, this is el reg. ;-)

Apologies for using your comment as the platform!

0
0
Zot
Bronze badge

Re: Benzene?

Hey! 'Anonymous Cowards' don't have platforms, just dark caves. :p

2
0

Re: Benzene?

When you criticize fracking, you criticize freedom. As part of your court settlement for your cancer treatment costs you are banned for life from discussing anything to do with fracking in public or private.

0
1
Zot
Bronze badge

Re: Benzene?

Treatment costs? I guess you're American.

I embrace the freedom to criticize. (But I'm secretly looking forward to the Earthquakes.)

1
0
TWB

Don't other computer companies already do this?

I thought all computers companies except Apple already insisted that where they get their machines made, the manufacturers did not use any hazardous chemicals and endanger the workforce in any way.

Maybe I have just missed the Reg stories regarding Lenovo, Asus, Samsung, Dell etc and how they make a big thing about how great they are when it comes to manufacturing.

Cynical - moi?...

1
2

This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

different ways of looking at things

Benzene is found in factories. Is this:

a) Apple's suppliers unable to contain dangerous chemicals?

or

b) Apple's suppliers manage use of dangerous chemicals to within tolerances?

(now as to whether the tolerance is just the legal limit, or a legal limit based on toxicology data, I leave to others. Certainly no use must be better than controlled use. I seem to recall working with n-hexane in the past but damned if I can remember why? perhaps that's another of it's effects....)

HSE has a leaflet on the nasty bugger http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg329.pdf if you find that you work with it.

And are "500,000" really exposed (in measureable amounts) to benzene etc, or is that the sum total of workers at the suppliers, some of whom may be "handling" the allegedly contaminated components/sub assemblies?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

What about the Semiconductor industry?

There are lots of very bad chemicals used in the manufacture of the chips.

2
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

Re: What about the Semiconductor industry?

Yep check out Hydrofluoric acid and Silane gas which make this stuff look like something that would come in a kids chemistry set by comparison. The difference is at least in the developed world modern semiconductor factories go to extraordinary lengths to prevent any exposure of fab workers to toxic chemicals. If it happens it almost always due to a worker being a fool beyond fool proof. Personally with over a decade experience in the industry the only time I have seen any type of exposure is dumbasses working for tool suppliers opening process chambers in tools incorrectly and setting off gas alarms (very very sensitive) and only a few times and no one was exposed to anywhere near toxic levels of anything regardless.

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

This post has been deleted by its author

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

Re: What about the Semiconductor industry?

See Hydrofluoric acid and Silane gas for examples that make these two look like something in a kid's chemistry set. Semiconductor fabs in the developed world today are much more automated and things are enclosed with interlocks, etc so that workers virtually never get exposed to these chemicals though. Nothing gets a clean room worker's attention and cleans out a clean room like a gas alarm. Almost all gas alarms in my experience are caused by clueless tool technicians opening a processing chamber incorrectly which thankfully is very rare.

0
0
Bronze badge

ROHM?

Isn't this already covered under removal of hazardous materials requirements?

No first world country allows those chemicals (certainly Benzene) in an electronic manufacturing environment anyway, why does China? There are numerous less hazardous ways of cleaning electronics.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: ROHM?

Less hazardous yes, cheaper no.

They will do anything they think they can get away with for cheaper.

0
0
Silver badge

question is...

What were the actual concentrations found?

From the article it seems to me that most of the stuff they found is trace leftover degreaser, possibly due to production pressure and insufficient airing times.

This would be measureable, but hardly noticeable, especially with n-hexane, which gets you stoned when you hit the (EU) legal limit of 25 ppm (prolongued-exposure toxicity (associated with the nervous disorders) for n-hexane is lowest-value 500 ppm, 20 times over that limit..) I can't imagine those facories working with peeps working in fumes thick enough to have a measureable physical effect. There'd be a recall or two each week if you let your cheap labour get stoned on the job, and such...

Benzene itself is not as nasty as people will have it, actually. The problem is mostly with its metabolites in the human body ( which also occur naturally) which are rather nasty. Flooding your system with that stuff through benzene inhalation is definitely a bad idea, although you really still need to inhale quite a bit of the stuff to have serious effects. The MAC value for benzene is very low (<1 ppm), but you hit that value with a bit of splash of gasoline, or for that matter a nice walk in a pinewood.

Both substances can be nasty long-term if misused/applied, but other than the bruhaha about "Dangerous Suffz" from environmentalists they rate pretty low on the scale of "Stuff you don't want to be around in/with". Especially as far as benzene is concerned there's even chance the air in the factory is cleaner than outside, given the rather notorious smog problem.

I'm not one to jump to the defense of megacorps/factories, but this one comes across as a kneejerk reaction, without properly investigating the cause.

2
0
Silver badge

Texas? California?

Since when does Apple make iPhones and iPads there? They make Mac Pros in Texas now, but what are they making in California? Anyone know??

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Texas? California?

Lawsuits.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Texas? California?

"what are they making in California?"

Erm.. . massive profits, I think

2
0
Slx

I'm not aware of them making anything in Cork, Ireland anymore either.

They employ several thousand people there but it's all basically multi-lingual EU technical support and their European operations HQ.

They've manufacturing and automation engineers in Cork who support the plants in the Far East though.

Also I'm 100% sure that exposing workers to benzene in Ireland, California and Texas is illegal.

That's why all electronics are made in China and elsewhere these days, big corporations (not necessarily Apple but absolutely everything) just rolled back decades of environmental and safety at work legislation by simply moving somewhere that doesn't really have any.

0
0

In China they 'splash it all over', many factories use it to wipe down the product before boxing.

Handy tip.. Do not breath in when unboxing.

Another handy tip for 'auditors', most just check invoices and stock rooms for banned substances, an old trick in China is simply to re-label the deliveries, many Chemical delivery companies in China have this service………

I'd be more worried about the crap that goes into the cables, headphone or otherwise.

Handy tip 2: Take an old CD case cover, leave a Chinese made cable resting over it for a week or so….. inspect the now melted cover.. and that's magic…..

0
0
Silver badge

Take an old CD case cover, leave a Chinese made cable resting over it for a week or so….. inspect the now melted cover.. and that's magic…..

Actually it's just a demonstration that Polystyrene (CD case) and PVC (cable insulation) really DO NOT get on with each other.

You'll find this mentioned in the instructions for ther installation of insulated loft boards, and in the codes for installation of electrical wiring. It's fundamental to those two plastics, not a demonstration of anything nasty in Chinese-made cables. Not that it's proof that the cables aren't full of toxic residues ....

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Thats interesting

Wonder what the noxious agent in PVC is?

Also there are other chemicals present in new wiring which may indeed be toxic, used to work with wire a lot and the "new wire smell" from a reel of this stuff fresh from the factory made me light headed.

Possibly formaldehyde, maybe other nasties such as vinyl residues.

0
0
Linux

Apple?

Apple? Aren't they the company that built a half-baked smartphone before Google perfected the product?

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon