An iPhone 6 factory in Shenzen, China is currently being investigated after 13 of its workers – aged 19 to 24 – were diagnosed with leukemia. Of the 13 employees confirmed to have the disease, five have already died.
According to the Daily Mail, families of the victims believe that the 13 workers at the iPhone 6 factory, where as many as 230,000 workers are employed, acquired leukemia from constant exposure to different chemicals used to clean electrical panels. Local labor groups added that the employees who were discovered to have the disease were terminated and denied medical assistance, burdening families with the high costs of cancer treatment.
The leukemia cases were linked to the iPhone 6 factory when visiting friends and relatives noticed that a significant number of patients receiving treatment in the cancer ward at the Number Two People’s Hospital in Shenzen were also employed at the iPhone factory. One relative, Cheng Fuying, whose son is currently in the advanced stages of blood cancer, says at least seven to eight employees at the factory are diagnosed with leukemia per year. His son, Yi Long, is bed-ridden and is currently incapable of providing for his family.
“For the first month, he was cleaning all the machines with chemicals. He never knew what chemicals he was handling because they were given to him by the distributor up the line. He said he was just given a bucket of liquid to clean the machines. After that, he changed jobs every month or two within the factory but he was on a production line when he fell ill. He started non-stop bleeding from his gums so co-workers helped him go to hospital.”
Although the facility is also used to manufacture other electronic products, Apple has used the Shenzen facility to produce massive quantities of iPhones since the first generation was released in 2007.
The workers, who presumably are not direct employees of Apple, were allegedly dismissed by Foxconn within three months of their diagnosis. Prior to acquiring leukemia, the victims were only equipped with disposable gloves and face masks while handling chemicals used to clean electrical panels.
Although investigations regarding the real cause of the leukemia cases haven’t been concluded, Apple, Foxconn and observing labor groups are putting in efforts to put a stop to whatever is causing the cancer among their employees.
Factory workers, like the ones employed at Foxconn’s iPhone 6 factory, are typically paid $150-$200 a month.
[Image from Chris/Flickr]