MARCH 18–SAN JOSE, Calif.–The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) announced it will proceed with a retrospective epidemiologic study to investigate whether or not wafer fabrication workers in the U.S. chip industry have experienced higher rates of cancer than non-fabrication workers.
“This study is another step in this industry’s long history of addressing the health and safety of its employees. This industry has always looked for ways to improve the manufacturing processes that lower environmental impacts and improve the health and safety conditions for our employees,” said George Scalise, president of the SIA. “The industry is encouraged with the scientific process that it has pursued in investigating this important issue, and is committed to a study that will use good science to provide sound insight,” added Scalise.
The decision follows the completion by a team from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHU) of a study to determine whether it is scientifically feasible to conduct a meaningful retrospective cancer study among U.S. chip fabrication employees. Planning for the study will begin immediately.
The JHU report was commissioned by the SIA as part of its ongoing initiatives to help ensure a safe working environment for employees who manufacture semiconductors. In 1999, the SIA commissioned a Scientific Advisory Committee, an independent panel of workplace health experts, to evaluate the potential for increased cancer risks among fabrication facility workers within the U.S. semiconductor manufacturing industry.
The Scientific Advisory Committee concluded that there was no affirmative evidence of increased risk of cancer among U.S. semiconductor factory workers. However, the committee recommended the industry investigate whether sufficient historical data exists to make it feasible to conduct a scientifically valid retrospective epidemiologic study among U.S. chip manufacturers. JHU was selected for this project.
“After a thorough examination of records from SIA member companies which were provided with full cooperation we concluded that there is sufficient, reliable and relevant data to conduct a scientifically valid retrospective study of cancer risks in the semiconductor industry.” said Genevieve Matanoski, MD, Dr. PH, principal investigator of the Johns Hopkins University team.
The JHU completed a thorough 11-month investigation that assessed the feasibility of conducting a meaningful, scientifically valid retrospective epidemiologic study of the semiconductor industry. The Johns Hopkins team spent months gathering relevant employee and workplace information from SIA companies to support their evaluation of the quantity and quality of the historical data available for use in a retrospective, epidemiologic study. While JHU has not yet submitted a final report, SIA approved going forward with a retrospective, epidemiologic study based on preliminary results in order to move expeditiously. The SIA will keep the public posted of these and other project milestones on the SIA website for public review
In 2002, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found the incidence of work injuries and illnesses was only 1.9 per 100 full-time workers. That ranking was better than 95 percent of all other durable goods manufacturing industries surveyed in the BLS report. While the industry is very proud of its safety record, the SIA continues to aggressively focus on worker health and safety and manage potential occupational health issues.