Apple Inc. is defending itself from allegations that some of its suppliers in China are responsible for causing pollution in that country.

Chinese environmental groups claim that Apple manufacturers have been releasing harmful pollutants into the environment. A report by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) and other non-governmental Chinese environment groups cited, for example, that an Apple factory in the city of Taiyuan in Shanxi Province released gases into the air that made it difficult for residents to open their windows.

The large volume of discharge in Apple's supply chain greatly endangers the public's health and safety, the report read.

Apple responded to the charges by claiming it is seeking to establish and enforce the highest standards of social responsibility in its supply chain.

We require that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made, the company said in a statement.

However, it is widely believed by Chinese environmentalists that Apple is exploiting the country’s lax regulations.

The report specifically named Taiwan-owned Foxconn, which reportedly manufactures iPhones and iPads in several large factories across China.

Another susepcted Apple supplier, Ibiden Electronics (Beijing), a Japanese manufacturer of printed wiring boards, was accused of discharging several dozen tons of sludge containing hazardous chemicals every day.

In fact, a report from Apple itself released in February revealed that numerous suppliers around the world, including China, were flouting local environmental safeguards and improperly handling toxic chemicals and heavy metal. Apple even indicated that in one Chinese factory, more than 100 employees were contaminated.

(However, Apple does not say who its suppliers are, although it claims it is making progress in persuading such suppliers to adhere to environmental standards).

A large number of IT supplier violation records have already been publicized; however, Apple chooses not to face such information and continues to use these companies as suppliers. This can only be seen as a deliberate refusal of responsibility, the IPE report said.