Poison Apple Spells Trouble For Workers

Posted by Greg | October 26, 2010  |  1 Comment

Australia’s ABC News is reporting that a group of workers have fallen “seriously ill” while making Apple Laptops and iPhone’s. The workers apparently inhaled fumes while working with the hazardous chemical n-hexane and are now unable to walk. The workers have been undergoing treatment at a local hospital to recover from symptoms for about six months so far.

The chemical n-hexane is used to glue and polish the touchscreens on Apple devices like the iPhone 4. A symptom of prolonged exposure to the chemical is Polyneuropathy, which is basically a nervous system disorder that can impair muscle movement, prevent normal sensation in the arms and legs, and cause pain.

One of the workers somehow took some of the Apple logos with her from the factory to prove they were working on what they assumed were parts for Apple devices. After breathing in the chemical’s vapours, they became dizzy and numb and eventually they could not walk.

At first the symptoms were pretty obvious. My hands were numb. I could hardly walk or run. – A Factory Worker

I think they knew it was poisonous to human bodies but if they had used another chemical our output would not have increased. By using n-hexane, it was much more efficient. – Another Factory Worker

Earlier in the year it was reported that workers at a Wintek plant (also responsible for producing parts for Apple devices) went on strike to protest the use of the toxic chemical. In that case, some 60 employees who were exposed to the chemical had to be hospitalized with similar symptoms.

Apple, meanwhile, would not confirm it had sourced products from companies based in China, but said it had tightened its requirements regarding workplace safety at its suppliers.

The low quality working conditions in Chinese factories has been an issue making headlines for some time now. Unfortunately things seem to rarely change for the better. The technology industry needs to begin taking more responsibility for the mistreatment of it’s workers and solve the problem before more innocents suffer the same fate.

Sources: ABC News via Gizmodo





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