Apple admits to toxic chemicals at China plant

Updated: 2011-02-17 10:37
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Apple Inc officially admitted on Feb 16 that 137 Chinese workers "suffered adverse health effects" from exposure to a toxic chemical in cleaning agents used at one of its factories in China, the reported.

The chemical, n-hexane, was used at a plant in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, which is operated by the Wintek corporation, the report said, citing Apple's Supplier Responsibility 2011 Progress Report.

"Apple considers this series of incidents to be a core violation for worker endangerment," the report said.

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Apple said it has required Wintek to stop using n-hexane and to provide evidence that they had removed the chemical from their production lines, according to the report.

In addition, Apple required them to fix their ventilation system. Since these changes, no new workers have suffered difficulties from chemical exposure, the report said.

Long-term, high-level exposure to n-hexane can damage the peripheral nervous system and eventually the spinal cord, leading to weak and atrophied muscles, male infertility, and even paralysis, according to

Following China law, Wintek has paid medical treatment, meals, and foregone wages for sick or recuperating workers. A majority of the 137 workers have returned to employment at the same factory, Apple said in the report.

Apple said it will conduct a total re-audit of Wintek's facility in 2011.

The maker of iPad and iPhone also said in the report that it is "disturbed and deeply saddened" by the suicides or attempted suicides at Foxconn Technology's Shenzhen factory over the course of five months.