Chinese Factory Workers: Making Apple Devices Made Us Sick

Workers at a factory in China say they were poisoned in 2009 while making iPhones, Apple‘s phenomenally popular device.

Workers at a factory in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou described to PBS Tuesday how they suffered ailments some were even hospitalized after cleaning iPhone screens using n-hexane.

One woman said she became very ill and couldn’t walk or wash her hair, while another man said he was in the hospital for about eight months.

Citing independent studies, the PBS report said n-hexane a toxic chemical made from crude oil causes neurological damage ranging from dizziness to paralysis.

In a Supplier Responsibility 2011 Progress Report, Apple revealed discovering that 137 workers at the Suzhou facility of Wintek, one of Apples suppliers, had suffered adverse health effects following exposure to n-hexane, a chemical in cleaning agents used in some manufacturing processes.”

We discovered that the factory had reconfigured operations without also changing their ventilation system,” the company stated in the report. Apple considered this series of incidents to be a core violation for worker endangerment.”

Apple said it verified that all affected workers have been treated successfully, and we continue to monitor their medical reports until full recuperation.”

The consumer-electronics giant also noted that Wintek paid for medical treatment, meals and wages to the sick or recuperating workers. And most of the workers returned to the same factory, according to Apple.

But in the interview, factory workers claimed their recovery is slow, and one man said his symptoms persist. The worker said a specialist at a hospital told him he needed treatment immediately, but his company disagreed.

Asked why the workers continue to work at the factory knowing they may be exposing themselves to future sickness, one woman said she didnt have much of a choice.

I wouldnt be able to get a job anywhere else because I have this occupational disease,” she told PBS through a translator. I wouldnt be able to get health insurance anywhere else.”

In its annual report, Apple stated that it relies on third-party vendors in China to perform final assembly of substantially all of the Companys Macs, iPhones, iPads and iPods.”

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