LONDON – Workers at a National Semiconductor wafer fab in Greenock, Scotland, in the 1990s were not at an increased risk of contracting cancer, according to a research study conducted by the U.K. government's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland.
"Our new research does not support the earlier concerns about a link between working at NSUK and developing cancer, especially when taking account of new information about cancer at two IBM semiconductor factories in America," the report concludes.
The report comes out after a similar study has been commissioned by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., which itself has faced complaints that unusual clusters of cancers have occurred at its semiconductor factory in Gi-Heung, south of Seoul.
The Scottish study follows on from a report in 2001, published by HSE, which found that although the overall number of cancers in the workforce was not unusual there was a possibility that some could have been caused by work. The most noteworthy finding was the observation of 11 female cases of lung cancer compared with 4 expected (after allowing for factors associated with deprivation such as smoking). There were also 3 cases of female stomach cancer when the calculated expected number of cases of this rare cancer would have been less than 1 case. There were also 20 cases of female breast cancer compared with 15 expected, and 4 cases of male brain cancer compared with less than 1 expected, according to the latest study which references the previous study.
The latest study, which has had a greater period of time to assess current workers and former workers who have contracted various cancers, finds that the incidences among current and former workers at National Semiconductor's Greenock facility are within the statistical range expected for a workforce of a similar age and background.
Stories of clusters of cancers in Greenock and of union lobbying for financial payouts against National Semiconductor emerged in the 1990s.
The HSE responded in 1998 by conducting research into a potential link between developing cancer and working at National Semiconductor in Greenock. HSE published the results of the research in 2001, which showed that although the overall number of cancers in the workforce was within the expected range for a workforce of the size of NSUK's, there was a possibility that some cancers could have been associated with work.