Apple bans use of toxic chemicals in iPhones, iPads

Two things that you definitely won’t find in the new iPhone: benzene and n-hexane.

Responding to pressure from labor and environmental advocacy groups, Apple announced Wednesday that it will forbid the use of the two potentially hazard chemicals in the final assembly of iPhones and iPads. In a notice posted on the company’s website, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, wrote that an investigation of 22 final assembly facilities turned up no evidence that workers’ health was in danger. Nonetheless, Apple updated its policies to explicitly ban the use of the chemicals, she said.

“Eliminating the risks from toxic substances in the products we all use has always been a passion of mine, and today it is one of our top three environmental priorities here at Apple,” said Jackson, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency who joined Apple in 2013.

In addition to researching new materials and technology, Apple will convene a new advisory board to help root out toxins in its products and supply chain, Jackson wrote. For the first time, Apple also made public its Regulated Substances Specification, a set of standards that suppliers are required to follow.

Apple has not banned the use of benzene and n-hexane in the early production phases of its devices, but it has lowered the maximum amount of the chemicals that may be present, the Associated Press reported.

“This is doing everything we can think of to do to crack down on chemical exposures and to be responsive to concerns,” Jackson told the Associated Press.

Apple has come under scrutiny in recent years for conditions in the factories in its supply chain, where some workers have become ill and others have committed suicide.

Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum, applauded Apple for moving to protect workers’ health.

“We hope it’s the first in many more steps as they move forward in looking at their supply chain labor issues,” she said in an interview with Silicon Beat.

As much of the tech industry sources its products from the same factories, concerted action among companies would be more effective, Gearhart added.

“I would love to hear collective agreements to make these moves so that we know that it’s not just a press release from Apple,” she said.

 

Apple has barred the use of two potentially hazardous in the final assembly of its devices.

Julia Love Julia Love (47 Posts)

Julia Love is a technology reporter covering Apple for the Mercury News. She previously covered the federal courts for The Recorder and American Lawyer Media. She is a Southern California native and alumna of Duke University.