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Apple probes poison-pumping Mac claim

Yet to find toxins in 'new computer' niff

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Apple has found "no evidence" to justify a claim that new Macs are releasing toxic gases, it said yesterday.

Last week, French newspaper Liberation reported that a lab worker - who refused to be named - employed by the state-run Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) alleged that there was more to the 'freshly manufactured' odour of his new Mac Pro then meets the nose.

After ten days' use of the machine, the researcher said, his eyes, nose and throat had become severely irritated.

All this took place way back in February 2007. Having had no explanation from Apple, he contacted eco-agency Greenpeace, who, he claimed, told him it had found "seven volatile organic contaminants" including the toxic "styrene, benzene and its derivatives".

Nasty stuff, to be sure - if they are indeed present in new computers. Benzene, for one, is carcinogenic, particularly with prolonged exposure.

Contacted by Macworld in the States this week, Apple did not dismiss the allegation out of hand, but stated that it has yet to find any evidence to back-up the claim, the site reports. It said its investigation into the matter was ongoing.

It's certainly the case that new Macs - new computers, period - often give off a niff that's usually characterised as a smell of 'newness'. It's highly likely that the whiff is the product of chemicals used in products' manufacture evaporating as the machines heat up when they're used.

The question is, are those chemicals particularly harmful and emitted in doses sufficient to cause consumers harm?

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