Computer factory staff are ‘at greater risk of cancer’

The danger of working in the semi-conductor industry was pointed also in Gunni Nordstrom's book "the invisible disease" which is very recommended.

Iris Atzmon.


Computer factory staff are ‘at greater risk of cancer’

MARTYN McLAUGHLIN
October 19 2006

Staff at computer factories could be at increased risk of contracting cancer because of working environments containing high levels of chemicals, metals and electromagnetic fields, according to a new study. In what is the largest study of its kind, the findings focus on upwards of 30,000 deaths of members of staff at factories in the US since 1969. It comes as government health inspectors have begun conducting a long-delayed follow-up inquiry into an Inverclyde factory at the centre of numerous cancer scares. Scots scientists have criticised the "limited" second investigation into the National Semiconductor plant in Greenock, and say the new study helps "firm-up the picture" surrounding health risks. The study by the Boston University School of Public Health in the US, published in the science journal Environmental Health, analysed the causes of death for 31,941 IBM workers and compared them with causes of death among the American population during this period. The information was obtained from IBM as part of a California lawsuit against the firm. The results of the study indicate there was increased mortality due to several types of cancer, especially in manufacturing workers and workers at particular plants in California, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont. Most notably, there was an excess of deaths due to cancer of the brain and central nervous system. Richard Clapp, from Boston University School of Public Health, said: "It was not possible to link these deaths to specific chemicals or other exposures in the workplace because the information necessary to do this was not available." The research appears to back up previous, smaller studies and highlights clear health risks for workers in computer factories. Among these was the Health and Safety Executive's initial 2001 study of 4000 people at National Semiconductor, which showed statistically significant excesses of lung, stomach, and breast cancers among women and an excess of brain cancer among men, with some rates four or five times higher than average. The HSE said it had received "ethical approval" to begin a new study at Greenock. Announced last June, and planning to look at various cases of cancer in more detail, it has been subject to significant delays. Professor Andrew Watterson, of Stirling University's occupational, environmental and public health group, said: "The US study confirms some of the evidence we have seen at Nat Semi. The families of former Nat Semi workers have been calling for years for a Europe-wide or international study into the industry, and this is the next best thing." Jim McCourt, of Phase Two, a support group for Nat Semi workers, said: "We've no doubt working in Nat Semi is dangerous. The scale of this study shows the industry has a real problem, and we would call on the HSE to initiate a UK-wide study."

"The results of the study indicate there was increased mortality due to several types of cancer, especially in manufacturing workers and workers at particular plants in California, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont. Most notably, there was an excess of deaths due to cancer of the brain and central nervous system."

//www.theherald.co.uk/news/72495.shtml

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