Apple Mac Pro Computers Toxic?

Jason O'Grady, <a href="">writing for ZDNet</a>, has me worried. He says that, <a href="">according to a French newspaper</a>, "Mac Pro owners run the risk of getting diseases as dangerous as leukemia (blood cancer) simply by using their computer."

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

September 30, 2008

2 Min Read

Jason O'Grady, writing for ZDNet, has me worried. He says that, according to a French newspaper, "Mac Pro owners run the risk of getting diseases as dangerous as leukemia (blood cancer) simply by using their computer."The reason, according to Liberation: Mac Pro computers may emit a smell that's the result of several toxic elements used in the manufacture of the devices, including benzene.

"Benzene is a carcinogen that can cause cancer in humans," the FDA explains, in the context of soft drinks. "It has caused cancer in workers exposed to high levels from workplace air."

Like many people, I use a Mac Pro at home, as do my wife and kids. I don't recall that it has ever emitted a smell as strong as the one that Mac Pro owners describe on Apple's online forums, but I'd like to be reassured by Apple that my family and I aren't breathing poison.

I have an e-mail in to Katie Cotton, Apple's head of corporate public relations, but I haven't yet received a reply.

Apple doesn't usually reply. The company is about as open to the press as North Korea.

I'd like to think there's nothing to this. Apple appears to have listed products with possible toxic substances on its Web site and there's no mention of Mac Pros with benzene. Its environmental statement seems reassuring.

But a Mac discussion thread suggests there is actually a smell that has been bothering some Mac Pro owners.

It's not immediately clear whether this smell is dangerous, but one person posting on Apple's site about the issue claims the smell killed his pet bird:

"I recently have had a bird die 'mysteriously' which was caged near my MacPro which has had the terrible smell for months," someone posting under the name MillerTimeHI said. "The vet said it was likely he inhaled something toxic!!! I was afraid it might be the Mac but didn't know how to prove it and now reading this forum I'm convinced it is what killed my bird."

Another Apple forum user published a post today titled, "Ok, I have a technical problem: my Mac Pro could emit benzene, what do I do?"

You'd think that this is the sort of issue Apple would want to respond to, quickly. Something like this would be fine: "Poison Macs? What are you smoking? Our computers are healthy and nutritious."

In the meantime, enjoy the crickets.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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