November 05, 2006 19:01 ET

Amicus Calls for Inquiry Into Cancer Deaths in Computer and Semiconductor Industry

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 6, 2006) - Amicus, the largest manufacturing union in the UK, has called for an inquiry into cancer risks in the computer and semiconductor manufacturing industry following new evidence from the United States.

A US study by Dr Richard Clapp of Boston University looking at death records of men and women who had worked for IBM in the United States found 'significantly greater' cancer deaths than expected based on the national average.

Several individual cancers showed particularly high rates, including cancers of the digestive organs, kidneys, brain and central nervous system and malignant melanoma of the skin. Amongst women, breast cancer, lung cancer, female genital cancer, brain and nervous system cancer rates were all elevated compared with national averages.

Taken with previous studies covering Scotland and the West Midlands, Amicus believes there is sufficient evidence to suggest long term health risks to current and former workers in the semiconductor, chip and computer sector.

There are a variety of exposures to chemicals, metals (especially arsenic, nickel and chromium), and electromagnetic fields such as ultraviolet light, radiofrequency and x-ray radiation in computer and semiconductor manufacturing.

Peter Skyte, Amicus National Officer, said:

"This US study provides powerful evidence of the increased health risks faced by past and present workers in the computer, chip and semiconductor industry. Government health and safety agencies and employers must act urgently to reduce this risk to stop more people dying in years to come. "

Amicus is calling for action on a number of fronts:

- The UK computer components/semiconductor industry to initiate industry wide research into cancer risks in the industry, and in particular to institute the research proposed by the HSE/DTI Feasibility study published in 2005.

- The UK computer components/semiconductor industry to identify the health hazards involved in their work and take urgent steps to remove toxic agents or control them to the lowest level possible.

- Action by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to investigate cancer risks in the UK computer components/semiconductor industry.

- Action by the Health and Safety Commission to urgently review the control of toxic substances in the UK computer components/semiconductor industry.

- Action by union safety representatives to require employers to reduce health risks.

Contact Information

  • Ciaran Naidoo
    07768 931 315
    Peter Skyte
    07768 931 302