We told you last year about the workers in Suzhou, China suffering from health problems due to toxic chemicals. The employees were poisoned in 2009 using a hazardous chemical to clean iPhone LCD screens.

Their employer is a subsidiary of Wintek corporation and is the number one producer of small to medium sized LCD screens in the world. Although Apple has since released information that the workers have fully recovered, a special report by PBS Newshour scheduled to air tonight tells a different story…

Special correspondent Jeffrey Kaye sits down with a few of the workers who say they were poisoned making iPhones. The interview comes from a dormitory for Wintek factory employees, and tells the tale of how their lives have been since the initial reports of their poisoning.

For those that don’t recall, the factory workers became extremely ill due to exposure to a toxic chemical known as n-hexane. The chemical is made from crude oil and studies from around the globe have found that it causes neurological damage ranging from dizziness to paralysis.

One worker describes the manufacturing process that left her nearly paralyzed:

“I used my left hand to hold the iPhone screen when it came down the work line. And with my right hand, I used a cotton cloth dipped in hexane to wipe the screen.”

The men and woman go on to explain that they didn’t realize they were sick at first, but they started finding it difficult to make it up the stairs or even walk. One man claimed he was in the hospital from November 2009 until July 2010.

Wintek employees went public about their illnesses in 2010. Last may Wintek announced it had discontinued n-hexane and provided medical treatment and compensation to the affected workers. Apple verified the company’s statements in a supplier responsibility progress report:

“We learned that 137 workers at the Suzhou facility of Wintek, one of Apple’s suppliers, had suffered adverse health effects following exposure to n-hexane. Apple has verified that all affected workers have been treated successfully, and we continue to monitor their medical reports until full recuperation.”

The men and woman in the interview seem to think differently. A man describes to the reporter a frustrating dispute between the hospital and his company. The hospital believes he needs further treatment, while his company says he’s fine. Several of them claim to still be experiencing symptoms of the poisoning.

When asked why they all continue to work for Wintek, the consensus seems to be that they are afraid. They worry if they leave the factory and their health continues to deteriorate, no one will be responsible for them.

You can watch a summary of tonight’s interview here.

Apple has agreed to better police its suppliers, but is it really their job?

  • orangesn0w


  • Josh

    This is apples fault not ours, they only care about themselves. It’s things like this that make me feel thy I should have bought a phone other than the iPhone 4. It’s sad to hear things like this.

    • 229Mick

      Yea, as long as we only give them money for poisoning abused Chinese people, our hands are clean!

  • Doug

    This is what happens when companies like apple don’t want to follow Americas Labor Laws. They don’t want to give workers a decent wage or a safe work environment so they out source to countries who don’t have these laws to save a lot of money and add to their share holders bottom line.

    This is the sad truth about work in America. The government tries to insure safe conditions and fair pay but instead of going along with that corporations take the jobs away from Americans and pay people 20ยข a day w no benefits. It’s fucked up and a lose lose for all workers.

    • Bullet933

      Yep! The Chinese need to unionize. If they don’t, nothing will change for them.

      • 229Mick

        Remember that if the Chinese unionize, the Chinese government kills them. The trick is not to do business with vicious communist regimes, unless it’ll make our electronics cheap of course. Where is apple moving business to now? Oh yea, Brazil. They just got a communist leader, should save us a lot of money on our electronics, and no more dead Chinese. Dead Brazilians instead!.

    • 229Mick

      This is what happens when over-paid unions drive jobs to where people WANT to work.

  • Awesomeguy97

    That why I use Android phones

    • slightly_broken

      me too. glad you use android phones

  • dabe

    And where do you think Android is made! Seattle lol. Stop being so greedy Apple pay people a living wage in safe conditions.

    • What are you basing that off of. Isn’t android an OS and therefore manufactured several companies. Id find it hard to believe that none of those companies dont outsource beyond Seattle.

    • 229Mick

      So you’re willing to pay 5-10x as much for an iPhone? That’s what your so called ‘living wage’ costs.

  • Justin

    Wintek is the company that should be worrying about safe work conditions, not so much Apple directly. I mean when a company is found giving toxic chemicals to their employees, you’d think that they’d sure as hell compensate for their hospital bills for fear of a lawsuit. If the hospital says they need more treatment, and Wintek won’t pay for it, then they should sue.

    • XepptizZ

      Agreed. Also, it’s not apple who ‘doens’t want’ them to have a safe working enviroment. If it was cheaper they would. No co pany who evolves using profits is going to have a treehugger attitude. It’s sad but that’s capitalism or commercialism.

      • Jason Masters

        That’s not capitalism that’s greed plain and simple.

  • Mac

    I feel sad for those people it should be a tweet blog about this to make their voices
    heard.and people should email jobs to see
    where he stand about this.

  • James Wolfe

    China is a very different place than America or the rest of the “free” world. Its not a capitalist system. If a greedy businessman wants to skimp on safety there aren’t rules to stop him like we have here. The only time anyone is punished for wrong doing is if news leaks out that hurts their national reputation. Like when companies were forging their product ingredients to boost protein counts and thus poison people and pets who ingested them. People stopped buying Chinese products. Those who were found guilty were not imprisoned or fined. They were executed. Protecting the workers is not a priority unfortunately. They are a resource. A tool. If they break down you can always get more.

    • Sarwoto

      Agree with you, same here in Indonesia, we are just numbers of tools ๐Ÿ™

    • Sarwoto

      Agree with you, same here in Indonesia, we are just numbers of tools

      • Jason Masters

        That’s sad in America were just potential votes for each election that’s all. power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely. idb should do more pieces like this instead of their usual fluff rumor pieces. This is an article worth reading way to step it up idb!

  • kokhean

    Sad to see all of these workers getting exploited by Apple like this.

  • Freaking crap