You, me and millions of us use phones and tablets today as an integral part
of our lives. We can’t even imagine a life without a phone in pocket or a tablet
in purse/backpack today. We also agree “these Chinese phones and tablet, they
flood the international market”. But have you realized that China in spite of
leading the smartphone-making market is actually paying the price of this?
This huge industry employing millions of workers in the chips, display and
assembling factories is actually marred with CANCER. Cancer, that is cause by
the chemical Benzene is used heavily in industries in China.
Today we are coming across the news of Benzene scare in Lanzhou province in
China which has resulted in flooding of markets and supermarkets. Consumers are
looking for bottled water – it’s time to look back at the situation. We today
bring you an in-depth on this critical and important industry which creates the
devices to run on new age information highway.
Benzene scare today
The authorities in Lanzhou announced that a cancer-inducing chemical Benzene
had been found in tap water at 20 times above national safety levels. This has
resulted in rushing for bottled water.
According to a news report in Wall
the city of Lanzhou is known as one of its most polluted,
particularly for the choking smog that frequently enshrouds the city of more
than three million residents. “Excessive levels of benzene was detected in
Lanzhou's tap water system on Fri, authorities said. Water not drinkable for the
next 24 hours,” reported People’s Daily
This city is the center of a major industrial area and has been center of the
country’s national nuclear power industry since the 1960s says a Wikipedia entry
This was not the first time though. In 2005 an explosion at the chemical
plant occurred on Nov. 13 2005 in Harbin, causing Benzene to leaked in the
river. According to NewYork
, The China Youth Daily reported that environmental officials in Jilin
- instead of telling the public - had tried to dilute the spill with reservoir
[UPDATE: Yesterday Chinese officials has announced that most if the water in
Lanzhou is now safe to drink. This Benzene leak in water affected about 2.4
Why actually pays for the beautiful handset you are using?
But this BENZENE leak is not something I am looking at today. I am rather
looking at the chemical in question – BENZENE and the electronics gadget we use.
Who Pays Film
has released a short 9:31
minute video that asks the cost of smartphone industry – “Who Pays the Price?
The Human Cost of Electronics.”
The documentary movie looks at the hazards of the electronics industry in
China profiling workers poisoned by chemicals and their struggle for a life.
This short video takes you on a scary ride into the reality of poisoning
(including Benzene) in the young factory workers, denial of compensation, their
fight for survival and suicide at a young age. Watch the documentary here
By the time the video ends you will also say “That Bloody Benzene”.
With this short film, filmmakers Heather White & Lynn Zhang documented
worker health and safety abuses at electronics factories in China. Though they
aim at sensitive working environment in Apple
factories, the issue does imply to all other
industries using Benzene and other chemicals in the production process. GreenAmerica
has also started a campaign “Bad Apple” because - because Apple is the Corporate
Social Responsibility (CSR) leader in the consumer electronics industry.
However, other smartphone manufacturers also need to take big steps to
protect their workers from toxic chemicals. They too need to hear from their
consumers, says this not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982.
The chemical Benzene is used in phone and tablet manufacturing process. In
fact two activist groups recently started a campaign to “pressure the company
into abandoning the use of two chemicals, benzene and n-hexane, in the
production of the iPhone”, according to FoxNews
China’s industry that manufactures phones/tablets
Well, technology does matters to us and to all people in the world, as it
makes our lives easy. But for the people who work at the factories producing
these gadgets, it’s a work including cleaning chips and parts all day long, in
factories that are not even properly ventilated.
Apple gets its iPhone and iPad manufactured in China. It has been in news in
the past because of labour related issues in the past. Motorola has its unit in
China, so has Samsung
, Lenovo, Qualcomm and dozen more. Most of the domestic
smartphone companies in India get Chinese phone, rebrand these and sell in
“A new wave of Asian smartphone makers has emerged to help meet this demand
for low-end handsets; companies such as Lenovo Group Ltd, ZTE Corp and Xiaomi
Tech - the rising star of cheap, made-in-China smartphones,” says a report in Reuters
“Chinese smartphone manufacturers shipped 347 million handsets in the first
nine months” in 2013, said ChinaDaily
in a report in October last year.
BENZENE – The train to CANCER
BENZENE a particular Category 1 carcinogen
, is allowed in Chinese factories.
For the young worker population that work six days a week to make a living in
these factories with no or poor ventilation, the risk increases manifold.
kills 52-year old at Samsung plant
does an Apple: announces no partner uses child labor
This chemical is one of the most widely used chemicals that is used in making
other chemicals, including plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents,
drugs, and pesticides.
The chemical targets liver, kidney, lung, heart and the brain and can
cause DNA strand breaks, chromosomal damage, etc. This is a notorious cause of
bone marrow failure. Substantial quantities of epidemiologic, clinical, and
laboratory data link benzene to aplastic anemia, acute leukemia, and bone marrow
abnormalities, says another Wikipedia entry
World Health Organization International Agency for Research in Cancer (which
has also commented on whether cell phone radiation can cause cancer last year),
has included Beneze in Category 1 of list of hazardous chemicals. It says
“several case-control studies have also shown increased odds ratios for exposure
to benzene, but mixed exposure patterns and poorly defined exposures render
their interpretation difficult.” It further said “three independent cohort
studies have demonstrated an increased incidence of acute nonlymphocytic
leukaemia in workers exposed to benzene.” Read
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) in US has classified benzene as “known
to be a human carcinogen”, reports American Cancer Society.
How one gets the Benzene contamination is also important. “Benzene can pass
through the skin. Benzene exposure through skin contact with gasoline or other
solvents is possible. People can also absorb benzene as they bathe or shower in
contaminated water” says Wisconsin department of
Do you want young people to pay the price of your phone/tablet?
We are sure you want your gadgets to be green, eco friendly and you want them
to be killer devices – in terms of speed and performance. You don’t want them to
be murderers of people who toil hard to bring the device to you, do