Apple probes poison-pumping Mac claim
Yet to find toxins in 'new computer' niff
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?
The dangerous stuff is Benzene (e as in death).
Petrol is also called Benzine (i as in life) i Not the deadly stuff.
Carry On Sniffing.
Who produces their own stuff anymore?
Christoph Schneeberger • Thursday 2nd October 2008 15:21 GMT:
"What worries me, is that said vendor (and probably others as well) is unable to deny or confirm that they use benzol or not in the production of their items, one would expect they had a clue what they have put in that shiny box when they made it..."
Welcome to the outsourcing era. Nobody seems to want to make their own stuff anymore. I don't know where the Macs are made now, but when I ordered my iBook about 7 years ago, it shipped from Taiwan. Now I think they're assembled in China.
Even so, it may not specifically be the Apple hardware responsible (assuming the Frenchman's claims are correct, which they probably aren't considering the lack of other complainants). Remember that those things have a processor from Intel; a GPU from either Intel, or an AMD or NVIDIA partner; memory from Hyundai, Samsung, etc.; a hard drive maybe from Hitachi or Toshiba; and so on. Who knows what the offending component could be.
A pedant writes
Benzene and benzine are most definitely NOT the same thing.
Benzene = cyclic 6C hydrocarbon
Benzine = mixture of aliphatic short-chain alkanes.
+ something about Wintards/Mactards/epic FAIL/lulz etc.
@Sam: not really...
I can't talk for the germans as swiss, but the thing (benzen) is called benzol round here and was used as solvent in all sorts of chemical processes, it smells much like marzipan and is very cancerogenic. Older people associate shoe glue with that smell since that's where it has been used ages ago. When you breath it, it gives a nice kick like alcohol first and then evolves to a bad headache (no i don't consume it, i was working in a plant in young years where benzol/benzen was used a lot).
The stuff is dangerous, the stuff definitely shouldn't come out of anything one takes home - no matter whichever crappy vendor sells it.
What worries me, is that said vendor (and probably others as well) is unable to deny or confirm that they use benzol or not in the production of their items, one would expect they had a clue what they have put in that shiny box when they made it...
Also, using benzol in a production line is a sign for cheap 3rd world production, since it should not be used anymore as solvent in production of plastics since years (because it is cancerogenic, while modern replacements are not).
Bottomline: if my gear starts smeeling sweet and marzipan-like after minutes or hours of operations, I throw it far-far away until it stops stinking, no matter what the logo on the box is.
What?! No one has done a Snow White joke yet? And you call this a geek site! Although the AC post about the Sontarans was first rate!
I wonder, is this the same group of Macs that were dying (frying) and caused the big warranty stink a couple years ago? A friend of mine got sucked up in that and ended up buying about 3 macbooks in the course of 18 months before it was all over. Toxic fumes could explain a lot of why people put up with this. I would have thought after the second one wintel would start looking pretty good.
Regardless, exceeding the operating limits by about 100 degrees seems like it could cause some interesting off gassing (to go along with the pretty blue smoke).