By Simon Parry – Daily Mail.
Apple is investigating its supply chain after the discovery of a disturbing cluster of leukaemia deaths among young workers at a factory in China where millions of its iPhones are made, The Mail on Sunday has learnt.
At least 13 workers in their late teens and early 20s have been diagnosed with leukaemia after falling sick at the massive factory in Shenzhen since 2010. Five have died – and at ages when doctors say cases of the blood cancer are rare.
Families and a labour welfare group believe the leukaemia was caused by exposure to chemicals used to clean electrical panels and say many more workers could have been affected. They add that young workers who fall sick with leukaemia are dismissed and denied continuing medical coverage, bankrupting families as they desperately pay for treatment.
Apple – whose launch celebrations for the iPhone 6 last week included a performance by Irish rock band U2 – says it is taking the allegations ‘very seriously’ and is looking into the issue at the Shenzhen factory, where about two million iPhones a week are made by an army of 230,000 migrant workers from across China.
The factory is used for manufacturing by other electronics giants but has been the main production base for Apple’s iPhones since the first model in 2007.
Details of the leukaemia cluster emerged after Apple last month announced it was banning the use of two potentially toxic chemicals, benzene and n-hexane, in the final assembly of iPhones and iPads.
Foxconn, owner of the Shenzhen factory, is sending officials to meet the Hong Kong-based labour welfare group to find out more about the leukaemia cases, the labour group said.
However, the Taiwan-based company, which also makes products for other electronics giants, insisted there was no evidence to link the leukaemia cases to the victims’ work and said it had not used benzene and n-hexane ‘for many years’…read more.