Apple Bans 2 Chemicals Used In iPhone, iPad Assembly

After pressure from labor activist groups, Apple has banned the use of two hazardous chemicals in its factories.

Apple Bans 2 Chemicals Used In iPhone, iPad Assembly
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Thursday Apple announced it's banning the use of two chemicals in its factories after petitions from labor activist groups. 

The groups, Green America and China Labor Watch, urged Apple to stop using benzene, a known carcinogen, and n-hexane, which can cause nerve damage.

Apple launched its own investigation on its 22 factories and only found the chemical at four of its facilities. The investigation found the chemicals were being used at normal safety levels.

But Apple decided to ban them in certain stages of its production line anyway. It will allow them in early production stages at a reduced level.

The company announced its decision Thursday saying: "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."

There are some 500,000 factory workers building Apple products in China, Brazil, Texas and California. Its operations in China, which is where the now-banned chemicals were found, have been under media scrutiny in recent years for allegations of unsafe and harsh labor practices. 

The New York Times reported that in 2010, 137 workers in China were seriously injured after being exposed to n-hexane, one of the chemicals listed in the recent ban.

CBS reported there was a spike in suicides in 2010 among employees at the Foxconn plant in China where Apple products are manufactured. Some blamed the suicides on intense pressure from management.

Apple pledged to work on the issues at the Foxconn plant but it's unclear what specific actions the company has taken.

This video contains images from Getty Images.