updated 12:10 pm EDT, Mon September 29, 2008
Mac Pro toxic? [u]
(Updated with corrections) Mac Pros may be producing fumes that contain toxic chemicals, according to tests posted on a French site for Mac enthusiasts, MacBidouille. The testing laboratory, Analytika, used multiple sensors over a period of eight days to collect air circulated by the cooling fan. Using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, the report claims to have identified seven organic contaminants in the vapors.
The list of substances includes propanal, benzene, ethanone, isobenzofurandione, propanone and acetic acid. Most of the chemicals are considered irritants, but benzene has been found to elevate cancer probability in workers exposed to just 10 parts per million, according to the American Cancer Society.
Many Mac Pro owners have complained of strong odors, sometimes even reporting headaches or nausea. Apple has not yet publicly addressed the concerns, although some customers have posted on support forums, saying that AppleCare technicians have replaced components in order to solve the problem, with mixed results.
The anonymous Mac user that commissioned the study says he is a researcher at France's National Center for Scientific Research, and experienced considerable irritation of his eyes, nose, and larynx after just 10 days of exposure. Apple initially tried to fix the computer, but the smell did not subside, even after a replacement was issued.
Activist group Greenpeace is said to have referred the man to Analytika for further investigation. The lab has been involved with other high profile environmental issues, including research on the Erika oil spill. The company advertises its analysis services for the purposes of respecting the environment and quality control.
It is important to note that the study was qualitative, not quantitative, and without knowing the levels of chemicals, an accurate conclusion cannot be drawn regarding potential health risks.