According to Green America, “Seventy-five percent of the world’s population owns a cell phone, billions of which are made in China.” No surprise there. However, what may surprise some consumers is that in the rush to meet growing demands for new and less expensive handheld electronics, the health of the workers making these products can be seriously compromised. Apple, maker of the iPhone and other popular gadgets, employs around 1.5 million people within Apple’s supplier factories in China, and on a daily basis these workers are exposed to a slew of toxic chemicals. Currently there are hundreds of chemicals routinely used to manufacture electronics and many are untested, though some of these chemicals have been studied and are known carcinogens and reproductive toxins, plus many of these chemicals can lead to cancer, leukemia, nerve damage, liver and kidney failure, and reproductive health issues. For workers simply trying to make a living, the health risks can be devastating. Learn more about the horrid Apple factory conditions at Green America. There’s hope for electronic factory workers on the horizon, however. Green America in partnership with The Nation and China Labor Watch have launched a new “Bad Apple” campaign protesting the appalling factory practices at Apple.
In the video above you can watch filmmakers Heather White & Lynn Zhang document various worker health and safety abuses at electronics factories in China in their film Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics. Sadly, the chemicals workers come into contact with in Apple factories don’t have to cause major health concerns. If Apple were to provide adequate training for chemical handling and/or protective gear for those workers who do handle toxic substances, the health risks of chemical exposure could be greatly reduced, if not eliminated. Further, there are some chemicals that could be banned from factories and Apple’s supply process, such as benzene, n-hexane and other seriously harmful chemicals known to be dangerous. Apple’s not going to take steps all on their own, not without some organizational and consumer encouragement. Via the links below, you can join Green America in calling out Apple about their shady practices and help to ensure that no more workers are poisoned while making Apple products.