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Exposure Assessment Among US Workers Employed in Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication

Marano, Donald E. BS, PE; Boice, John D. Jr ScD; Munro, Heather M. MS; Chadda, Bandana K. MPH; Williams, Michael E. MS, ARM; McCarthy, Colleen M. MSPH; Kivel, Peggy F. BA; Blot, William J. PhD; McLaughlin, Joseph K. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 11 - p 1075–1081
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181f6ee1d
Original Articles

Objective: To classify 100,081 semiconductor workers employed during 1983–2002, and some as early as 1968, regarding potential for chemical exposures in cleanrooms during silicon wafer fabrication.

Methods: This study involved site visits to 10 cities with fabrication facilities, evaluation of 12,300 personal air samples for >60 chemicals, and examination of >37,000 departments and >8600 job codes to develop exposure groupings.

Results: Each worker was classified into one of five exposure groups on the basis of job-department combinations: 1) fabrication process equipment operators or process equipment service technicians working in cleanrooms (n = 28,583); 2) professionals such as supervisors working in fabrication areas (n = 8642); 3) professionals and office workers in nonfabrication areas (n = 53,512); 4) back-end workers (n = 5256); or 5) other nonfabrication workers (n = 4088). More than 98% of the personal air samples were below current occupational exposure limits.

Conclusions: Although specific chemical exposures at the level of the individual could not be quantified, semiconductor workers were classified into broad exposure groups for assessment of cancer mortality in an epidemiologic study.

From the Vanderbilt University Department of Medicine and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (Dr Boice, Dr Blot, Dr McLaughlin), Nashville, Tenn; the International Epidemiology Institute (Dr Boice, Ms Munro, Ms Chadda, Dr Blot, Dr McLaughlin), Rockville, Md; IHI Environmental (Mr Marano, Ms McCarthy, Ms Kivel), Salt Lake City, Utah; and Health Safety & Risk Management Services (Mr Williams), Healdsburg, Calif.

Address correspondence to: Joseph K. McLaughlin, PhD, International Epidemiology Institute, 1455 Research Blvd., Suite 550, Rockville, MD 20850; E-mail:

The results presented in this article represent the conclusions and opinions solely of the authors. Its publication does not imply endorsement by the Semiconductor Industry Association or any of its member companies.

The study sponsors had no role in the study design, analysis or interpretation of the data, or in the writing, preparation, and submission of the manuscript. Mr Marano, Dr Boice, Dr Blot, and Dr McLaughlin had full access to all study data and had final responsibility to submit the manuscript for publication. All authors reviewed and approved the manuscript.

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine