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Chip factories can be killers

by on07 February 2012

Top plants have leukemia-linked carcinogens

Leukemia-linked carcinogens have been found in the chip factories in Korean semiconductor-producing factories of Samsung Electronics and other chipmakers.

The Korea Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute found cancer-causing substances are present inside the chip factories. Park Jung-sun, head of the state-run Institute said that a study, conducted between 2009 and 2011 on chip lines of Samsung, Hynix Semiconductor and Fairchild Semiconductor, confirmed the presence of benzene, formaldehyde and radiation at levels way below what is considered harmful. All three have been linked to leukemia.

It is the first time that carcinogens, long claimed by civic groups and some employees, has been confirmed by an authoritative study.  The last time the Intitute looked in the matter was 2007 and it did not find anything. There have been public health concerns over workplace safety at Samsung, the world's No. 1 maker of computer memory chips, after some of its employees died of leukemia and other cancers while or after working at its chip manufacturing lines.

Samsung insists that their deaths were not work-related. A local court last year ruled that some of the cancers the workers contracted could be classified as "industrial accidents." Samsung said that the materials are present in levels that are not
harmful to humans. However it did say that it would look closer at the study's findings.

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