The iPhone just got a little bit more green. Apple has pledged to stop using the dangerous chemicals benzene and N-hexane in the production of its smartphones. Here’s what you need to know about the health risks associated with these chemicals.
1. Apple Banned Benzene & N-Hexane From iPhone Assembly Lines
Apple has banned the use of two toxic chemicals from the factories that make iPhone components. The two chemicals, benzene and N-Hexane, are linked to possible health problems. PC Mag notes that these chemicals will no longer be used at a total of 22 factories around the world, and the change will affect the health of about 500,000 workers. The ban will be effective September 1.
2. Benzene Is Linked to a Number of Health Risks
The video above uses a special infrared camera to show how much benzene escapes into the air during a typical visit to the gas station.
According to the CDC, benzene is a colorless or light yellow liquid that can evaporate very quickly into the air. Long-term health problems linked to benzene exposure include irregular periods and leukemia. Benzene exposure can also cause bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, which can lead to anemia.
3. N-Hexane Is a Chemical Made From Crude Oil
N-Hexane is a chemical made from crude oil. According to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, N-Hexane can affect both your nervous system and your reproductive system. The average person might encounter N-Hexane in products like gasoline, quick-drying hobby glue, or rubber cement.
4. Apple Investigated Health Risks for Months
According to TIME, Apple undertook a four-month investigation to determine whether workers were at risk from the chemicals. Apple’s found that there were no health risks. Benzene and N-Hexane are often used in solvents used to clean machinery.
TIME quotes Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environmental Initiatives, who says:
“We think it’s really important that we show some leadership and really look toward the future by trying to use greener chemistries.”
5. The Chemical Ban Comes After Apple Was Petitioned by Activists
CNET notes that the ban on these two chemicals comes just a few months after Apple was petitioned by two different activist groups. China Labor Watch and Green America both petitioned Apple to stop using these chemicals in the production of their tech gadgets.
It should be noted, however, that the use of these chemicals has not been banned in “early production phases” of its devices.