French newspaper Libération is reporting that the pungent fumes wafting from some Mac Pros may actually be the smell of Benzene. Their astonishing conclusion, based upon the laboratory analysis of a single Mac Pro's fumes: that using a Mac Pro will lead to heightened risk of bone marrow problems, and that owners "could very well develop leukemia."
It's exploitative scare mongering based on a single sample, of course, but that doesn't mean it's not worth taking seriously. One particularly nasty chemical detected was benzene, which certainly does damage bone marrow and can lead to serious health problems if inhaled. But Libération does not make note of exactly how much benzene is being released, nor did they confirm their test on additional Mac Pros. If there really is a serious health risk here, surely some money could be ponied up to test the "Mac Pros give you leukemia" hypothesis.
That said, Apple's silence on the issue is troubling. Apple still hasn't responded to the report, and according to ZDNet's Apple Core blog, users who have called Apple support about fume-emitting Mac Pros have not been able to get a definitive assurance that they are safe, only that the problem should only effect Mac Pros built before 2008.
It's probably much ado about nothing. Still, even if there's not a stitch of truth to the results, Apple needs to pipe up and say as much. Do they really want to see "Macs cause Leukemia" headlines floating up in the ocean of tech site news feeds for the next few weeks? Does Jobs — a cancer survivor himself — really think keeping mum about his products being linked, however superficially, with a deadly disease is a good idea?