Individuals who work or were previously employed in the semiconductor chip industry from approximately 1986 – 2000 are at an increased risk of developing cancer and other serious, life-threatening injuries due to exposure of toxic chemicals and other substances. In addition, some of these chemicals have been directly linked to the development of infertility, subfertitlity, damage to testes, embryo or fetus and other reproductive problems including birth defects, spontaneous abortions and miscarriages.
What’s the problem?
The semiconductor industry uses a variety of hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing process of many computer components, including disk drives, circuit boards, video display equipment, and silicon chips or silicon wafers. Many of the chips and other manufactured goods are made in clean rooms. These rooms are designed to protect the chips by recirculating the air in the room, however because of this process, many workers are being exposed to air that has been contaminated with toxic dust and chemical fumes. The exposure to these toxins through the inhalation of the contaminated air or direct exposure to the skin is what causes the unfortunate health problems experienced by many of the employees of this industry.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association’s March 24, 1999 article titled,”Pregnancy Outcome Following Gestational Exposure to Organic Solvents” (http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/281/12/1106),
“Occupational exposure to organic solvents during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of major fetal malformations. This risk appears to be increased among women who report symptoms associated with organic solvent exposure. Women’s exposure to organic solvents should be minimized during pregnancy. Symptomatic exposure appears to predict higher fetal risk for malformations.”
Some of the more prominent semiconductor manufacturers include Intel, IBM, Digital (compaq), Motorola, Texas Instruments, Apple, Zilog, National Semiconductor, VIA /Cyrix, IDT, ITT, Renaissance Microsystems, Sematech AT&T, Micron Technology and Advanced Micro Devices.
Toxic Chemical Exposure
Below is a partial list of toxic chemicals used in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Individuals that worked in clean rooms applying photoresist over the silicon (photolithography), worked as spin or spray coaters or people that were exposed to any of the following chemicals while employed in the industry are at an increased risk of health problems.
- Ethylene Glycol Ethers (EGE)
- Hydrochloric Acid
- Methyl Chloroform
Birth Defects & Other Health Problems Associated with Toxic Chemical Exposure
Below is a partial list of birth defects and other health problems associated with the exposure to toxic chemicals used in the semiconductor manufacturing industry.
- damage to the embryo or fetus of a pregnant woman
- spontaneous abortion
- cleft lip and/or cleft palate
- hydrocephalus – abnormal build up of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain
- neural tube defects – anencephaly (underdeveloped brain and skull), encephalocele (hole in the skull), and spina bifida (cleft or open spine)
- heart defects
Other Health Problems
- damage to testes