Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is making efforts to promote safer manufacturing practices in its factories overseas.
The Cupertino, California-based smartphone maker has ordered that its factories in China refrain from using the chemicals benzene and n-hexane during the final production of Apple devices like iPhones, iPads Mac computers, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. The ban comes following pressure from labor watchdog groups -- China Labor Watch and Green America -- that Apple look into the potential dangers of using these chemicals within the manufacturing process for its devices.
Apple conducted a four-month investigation of 22 factories and says it found no evidence that hazardous chemicals caused harm to factory workers, though reports indicate that unsafe work conditions at Apple's factories have caused workers to become sick and other to commit suicide.
Benzene in particular can cause leukemia while n-hexane has been linked to nerve damage; the chemicals are often ingredients in the cleaning agents used at factories, the Associated Press explained. To ensure the chemicals are not being used, Apple is calling for factories to test all solutions used within the production process for benzene or n-hexane, even if they are not listed as ingredients.
"We’re committed to removing toxins from our products and processes. Because everyone has the right to a safe product and a safe working environment," Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president for environmental initiatives said in a statement.
The company counts its move to ban the toxic chemicals among an ongoing effort to promote a healthier and greener manufacturing process. Apple has published its Regulated Substances Specification -- its guidelines for supply chain in the creation of its products. Additionally, Jackson says Apple plans to start a new advisory board dedicated to eliminating toxins from its manufacturing processes.
"We continue to lead the industry in this area as we are committed to keeping both people and the environment healthy," she added.
While most of the factories where the ban has been enacted are located in China, factories in Brazil, Ireland, Texas and California are also to refrain from using benzene and n-hexane. However, the chemicals are is still allowed in the early production phases for Apple products, the Associated Press noted.