Pressure on Apple to Drop Harmful Chemicals from iPhone Production

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Apple is facing increased pressure from a collection of environmental activists over its alleged used of harmful chemicals during the manufacturing process for its iPhone handsets.

A group of 80 organisations have jointly penned a letter to Apple's Vice President of Environmental Affairs Lisa Jackson, the former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging her to stop what they say is Apple's poisoning of Chinese workers.

The cost of changing manufacturing processes, the groups estimate, is less than $1 per device.

The groups are specifically calling on Jackson to use her influence to eliminate and replace all hazardous chemicals used in Apple's Chinese supplier factories with safe alternatives. According to the groups, this is particularly critical for benzene and other highly hazardous chemicals which can cause cancer, reproductive and neurological harm.

At the EPA, Jackson monitored benzene levels in the water and air to ensure no one was exposed to dangerous levels of this known human carcinogen. According to the groups, Apple's workers could be exposed to more than three times the amount of hazardous chemicals legally permissible in the USA.

"As a global technology leader, Apple can and should be the first consumer electronics company to implement reforms to protect workers from hazardous chemicals," said Elizabeth O'Connell, campaigns director for Green America. "Apple has the financial resources to make these changes and the global leadership to make it count. Apple is not alone in these offenses, but its leadership is needed to make worker health and safety reforms a broader priority within the technology industry."

Apple does not disclose a full list of the chemicals used in production, but two chemicals thought to be used and of immediate concern include benzene and n-hexane, both of which have been linked to worker illness in Apple supplier factories.

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