Protect Factory Workers from Toxic Chemicals


Target: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple & Dr. Oh-Hyun Kwon, CEO of Samsung

Goal: Safeguard the health of factory workers and end the use of dangerous chemicals in electronics manufacturing

Toxic chemicals currently used in electronic production processes are putting millions of factory workers risk. The chemicals in question are benzene and trichloroethylene; exposure has been linked to increased risk of cancer, leukemia, nerve damage, liver and kidney failure, and reproductive health issues. Most factory workers are not told the risks involved in working with these toxins, and often lack proper training and protective gear.

In dust-free rooms at TV, smartphone and computer factories the air is rapidly re-circulated which increases the rate at which the chemicals are inhaled. Two employees at a Samsung factory in South Korea recently died from acute myeloid leukemia, which can be caused by exposure to these dangerous compounds. According to a new investigative report there have already been more than 100 victims of these illnesses. Yet Samsung has denied any correlation between the illnesses and chemical exposure. Furthermore, a 2012 university study on Korean workers who contracted occupational leukemia and other related illnesses was cut short because Samsung would not allow observation of factory working conditions.

There have been 52 cases of occupational leukemia at an Apple electronics factory in China. Many employees do not report these illnesses for fear of retaliation, and those conditions that are reported are often under-diagnosed. Because of this many workers lack access to medical treatment or compensation for these work-related illnesses.

These companies have an ethical responsibility to protect their employees. Luckily there are safer alternatives to benzene, which experts in the field say would increase cost by just $1 per item. Tell Samsung and Apple to protect their factory employees and ban dangerous chemicals from their electronic production processes.


Dear Mr. Cook & Dr. Kwon,

I was devastated to hear of the number of cases of occupational leukemia at your factories. Your employees working in dust-free rooms are constantly exposed to dangerous chemicals such as benzene and trichloroethylene, which are known human carcinogens. Exposure can cause cancer, leukemia, nerve damage, liver & kidney failure, and reproductive health issues. It is your companies’ ethical responsibility to protect your employees from these dangerous chemicals.

I am pleased to inform you that there are safer alternative to benzene, with little extra cost. By making the switch you can prevent future chemical-related occupational diseases. Please protect your employees: acknowledge the correlation between exposure and illness, ban dangerous chemicals from your electronic production processes and provide proper medical compensation for your employees who have been affected by these toxins.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Robert Scolbe via Flickr

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