Several Chinese laborers are reporting serious illness after being exposed to a toxic chemical while assembling iPhones. According to reports, the workers inhaled vapors of a chemical called n-hexane while working in a poorly-ventilated room.
An ABC News foreign correspondent gained access to the Number Five People's Hospital in Suzhou, where the workers are being treated, to speak with them. They said that n-hexane was being used to glue and polish Apple logos on Apple iPhones that "...they assumed were not fakes." The workers, some of whom have been hospitalized for half a year, state that they became dizzy and eventually were unable to walk. Most report continued pain in their legs.
in a similar story, manufacturer Wintek recently halted the use of n-hexane after workers became ill. Wintek makes touch screens for many Apple products. Affected Wintek employees also report chronic leg pain following otherwise successful n-hexane treatment.
Wikipedia describes n-hexane as a hydrocarbon that is often "...used in the formulation of glues for shoes, leather products, and roofing. They are also used to extract cooking oils from seeds, for cleansing and degreasing all sorts of items, and in textile manufacturing."
It's interesting to note that the Chinese manufacturer is not mentioned in the story. It's well known that Foxconn workers assemble Apple iPhones, and that they have endured their own sets of hardships.
To the best of our knowledge, it's unknown if this is about a Foxconn factory, a third-party factory sub-contracted by Foxconn to help meet the incredible demand, a counterfeit plant, etc. We'll follow this story and keep you updated.