The world’s most powerful electronics company is facing mounting pressure from regulators to do more to keep it on top of the world’s air pollution problem.
Theresa May is set to announce plans on Tuesday to scrap the European Union’s strict air quality directive as part of her first major move in her premiership.
Apple has long struggled with air pollution, but its products, including its devices, have become particularly susceptible to harmful particles.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said on Tuesday that the company’s products are “the safest” devices around, but added: “The question is, how safe is the air we breathe in the UK?”
In the UK, the air quality problem is especially acute, with more than 2,000 cases of respiratory illnesses and around 1,300 deaths a year linked to PM2.5 particulate matter.
Apple’s UK-based operations face an even more dire outlook, with an estimated 30 per cent of Apple’s staff living in areas where levels of PM2, which are higher than fine dust levels, are exceeding acceptable limits.
“The UK’s air quality situation is a very serious concern,” Apple UK chief executive Peter Barrington said.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with the relevant authorities to improve our quality control practices and to ensure that we remain compliant with all of the applicable air quality regulations.”
Theresa, the PM of Britain’s Conservative Party, is set, as the PM said on Monday, to announce that the UK will end its strict air pollution directive on Tuesday.
The PM’s announcement comes on the same day as Britain’s government announced a further £100m ($161m) in aid to help the country meet its targets to tackle the problem.
On Tuesday, May said Apple was “in the process of delivering a range of initiatives to address the health and safety of our staff”.
It is also set to unveil its first ever “smart” home, a device that will detect when the user is in a car, or is on a bike or other public transport, and will automatically turn off its air conditioner and turn on its Wi-Fi router, which will make it less likely to trap pollution in the air.
Apple, which is already under fire from air pollution campaigners, has faced criticism in recent years for its handling of the air in its factories and retail stores.
In a blog post published on Monday night, Tim Cook wrote: “We are proud of the quality of our products and the safety we have built over the past decades.
But we also recognise the air around us is a major challenge.
It is not a problem that can be solved by simply changing some devices or adding new ones.””
We are working with our suppliers and industry partners to identify ways to improve the safety of products and we will provide updates to the public once we have finalised the new measures we will be introducing.”
The announcement is set for a news conference in the House of Commons, which has been set for Tuesday evening.