Saf Health Work.  2011 Jun;2(2):122-134.

Cases Series of Malignant Lymphohematopoietic Disorder in Korean Semiconductor Industry

Affiliations
  • 1Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, Incheon, Korea. toxneuro@kosha.net

Abstract


OBJECTIVES
Seven cases of malignant lymphohematopoietic (LHP) disorder were claimed to have developed from occupational exposure at two plants of a semiconductor company from 2007 to 2010. This study evaluated the possibility of exposure to carcinogenic agents for the cases.
METHODS
Clinical courses were reviewed with assessing possible exposure to carcinogenic agents related to LHP cancers. Chemicals used at six major semiconductor companies in Korea were reviewed. Airborne monitoring for chemicals, including benzene, was conducted and the ionizing radiation dose was measured from 2008 to 2010.
RESULTS
The latency of seven cases (five leukemiae, a Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and an aplastic anemia) ranged from 16 months to 15 years and 5 months. Most chemical measurements were at levels of less than 10% of the Korean Occupational Exposure Limit value. No carcinogens related to LHP cancers were used or detected. Complete-shielded radiation-generating devices were used, but the ionizing radiation doses were 0.20-0.22 uSv/hr (background level: 0.21 microSv/hr). Airborne benzene was detected at 0.31 ppb when the detection limit was lowered as low as possible. Ethylene oxide and formaldehyde were not found in the cases' processes, while these two were determined to be among the 263 chemicals in the list that was used at the six semiconductor companies at levels lower than 0.1%. Exposures occurring before 2002 could not be assessed because of the lack of information.
CONCLUSION
Considering the possibility of exposure to carcinogenic agents, we could not find any convincing evidence for occupational exposure in all investigated cases. However, further study is needed because the semiconductor industry is a newly developing one.

Keyword

Semiconductors; Leukemia; Lymphoma; Epidemiologic studies; Korea
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