Mortality not Increased in Semiconductor Industry

There is no increased health risk
while mounting circuits in the factory

Workers involved in the manufacture of semiconductors and storage media have varying exposure to a wide range of potentially hazardous substances. The results show no definite health risks to workers in the semiconductor industry, although links between certain types of jobs and specific cancers warrant further study.

The first study, led by Robert Herrick, SD, of Harvard University, estimated potentially hazardous occupational exposures in a sample of over 125,000 workers at three IBM manufacturing plants between 1965 and 1999. The second study, led by Colleen Beall, DrPH, of University of Alabama at Birmingham, assessed mortality risks among employees in various work groups. The overall mortality rate was low - 30 to 40 percent lower than in the general population - likely reflecting the workers' above-average education, income, and access to medical care.

The risks of death from cancer and other major diseases were also lower than expected. Overall, there was "no conclusive evidence that any form of cancer was associated causally with employment," the researchers write.

However, some employees in certain work groups were at a low elevated risk of specific cancers: Equipment maintenance workers at one of the semiconductor plants had increased rates of central nervous system cancers. At the storage device facility, workers in the facilities/laboratories work group had an increased rate of prostate cancer. There was also evidence of an increased risk of ovarian cancer for certain groups of female workers, particularly those with long-term exposure.

The authors believe that some of these associations should be tabbed for further study, particularly the links with central nervous system and prostate cancers. Because of rapid changes in products and production processes, the exposures presented today may be very different from those in the past.; Source: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins