SIA to appoint panel to investigate cancer links

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) says it will lead an effort to form a scientific panel to examine potential cancer risks in the industry's clean rooms.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) says it will lead an effort to form a scientific panel to examine potential cancer risks in the industry's clean rooms.

The action comes partly in response to lawsuits filed against National Semiconductor Corp. and IBM by workers who said they developed cancer as a result of working in clean rooms, SIA and company spokesmen said today. Clean rooms are the rooms where transistors are manufactured.

The SIA said it will name a chairman for the panel with experience in occupational health issues. The SIA and the chairman will then select a group of experts in the areas of epidemiology, industrial hygiene, toxicology, occupational health and cancer research.

The association's president downplayed the likelihood of the presence of a high degree of cancer in the clean rooms, today in a statement.

"While we do not believe there is credible evidence of increased risk of cancer associated with working in the semiconductor industry, we believe it will be useful to assess the existing data to determine whether more extensive evaluation is warranted," George Scalise, SIA president, said in the statement.

The SIA is also acting in response to lawsuits filed by workers against IBM and National Semiconductor, said association spokesman Daven Oswalt.

National Semiconductor has voiced its support for the study, Mike Brozda, a National Semiconductor spokesman, said today in a telephone interview.

"We want to be proactive and make sure that the air is clean here," he said. "The health and safety of our workers is a huge concern for us."

IBM could not be reached for comment.

In its statement, SIA said it has led other industry investigations based on health concerns.

In 1989, the organization funded an epidemiological study in response to concerns over potential reproductive health hazards in clean rooms. The study, conducted by the University of California at Davis and completed in 1992, produced recommendations implemented by the industry that resulted in the elimination of certain ethylene-based glycol ethers (EGEs) previously used within the industry, the SIA statement said.

SIA, in San Jose, California, can be reached at +1-408-436-6611, or at http://www.semichips.org/. National Semiconductor, in Santa Clara, California, is at +1-408-721-5000, or at http://www.national.com/. In Armonk, New York, IBM can be reached at http://www.ibm.com/.

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