International Campaign for Responsible Technology  

Global Semiconductor Health Hazards Exposed

The October 5, 1998, Wall Street Journal reported that women workers at a National Semiconductor factory in Scotland are suffering from breast, uterine and cervical cancer that they believe is related to their work with chemicals. Other media reports by the BBC and  NBC Dateline  have connected the health of workers in electronics manufacturing plants to their chemical exposure.  

"As the high-tech industry expanded out of Silicon Valley, it not only exported its technology to countries all over the world, but also its toxic chemicals and the resulting health hazards," said Ted  
Smith, director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) in San  Jose, CA. "From Glasgow to San Jose to Malaysia and beyond, this discovery has broad and dangerous implications for the computer industry globally and in the United States. We believe the real tragedy of the cancer clusters is that they are just the tip of the iceberg."  

This discovery has profound implications for the semiconductor industry in the United States, where there have also been reports of high-tech cancer clusters said SVTC.  

Communities leaders from 20 countries have expressed outrage and have signed a letter organized by the International Campaign for Responsible Technology (I-CRT) blasting National Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla for not placing worker health and safety as a higher priority.  

"The facade that the electronics industry is a 'clean industry' is being stripped away," said Grace Morrison of PHASE II, a support group for injured semiconductor workers in Scotland. Morrison was diagnosed with cancer shortly after she stopped working at National Semiconductor in Scotland.   

"It appears that National Semiconductor wihheld information from these workers about the dangers of chip-making chemicals," said JoLani Hironaka, executive director of the Santa Clara Center for
Ococupational Safety and Health (SCCOSH)"Workers need this information to protect themselves and make informed choices about health.  Clearly the high-tech industry needs to be monitored and regulated as much as any other manufacturing sector, perhaps even more so because chip-making is so chemical intensive.  Unfortunately, this is no consolation to the workers in Scotland."  

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