Assessment of Arsenic Exposure by Measurement of Urinary Speciated Inorganic Arsenic Metabolites in Workers in a Semiconductor Manufacturing Plant
OBJECTIVES This study was designed to evaluate exposure levels of various chemicals used in wafer fabrication product lines in the semiconductor industry where work-related leukemia has occurred. METHODS The research focused on 9 representative wafer fabrication bays among a total of 25 bays in a semiconductor product line. We monitored the chemical substances categorized as human carcinogens with respect to leukemia as well as harmful chemicals used in the bays and substances with hematologic and reproductive toxicities to evaluate the overall health effect for semiconductor industry workers. With respect to monitoring, active and passive sampling techniques were introduced. Eight-hour long-term and 15-minute short-term sampling was conducted for the area as well as on personal samples. RESULTS The results of the measurements for each substance showed that benzene, toluene, xylene, n-butyl acetate, 2-methoxyethanol, 2-heptanone, ethylene glycol, sulfuric acid, and phosphoric acid were non-detectable (ND) in all samples. Arsine was either "ND" or it existed only in trace form in the bay air. The maximum exposure concentration of fluorides was approximately 0.17% of the Korea occupational exposure limits, with hydrofluoric acid at about 0.2%, hydrochloric acid 0.06%, nitric acid 0.05%, isopropyl alcohol 0.4%, and phosphine at about 2%. The maximum exposure concentration of propylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate (PGMEA) was 0.0870 ppm, representing only 0.1% or less than the American Industrial Hygiene Association recommended standard (100 ppm). CONCLUSION Benzene, a known human carcinogen for leukemia, and arsine, a hematologic toxin, were not detected in wafer fabrication sites in this study. Among reproductive toxic substances, n-butyl acetate was not detected, but fluorides and PGMEA existed in small amounts in the air. This investigation was focused on the air-borne chemical concentrations only in regular working conditions. Unconditional exposures during spills and/or maintenance tasks and by-product chemicals were not included. Supplementary studies might be required.