Article Abstract

Student Paper: Erin Brockovich or Chicken Little? Addressing the Semiconductor Industries' Concerns Regarding Perfluorooctane Sulfonates (PFOS)
Nancy A. Tario; University of Minnesota Duluth

Perfluorooctyl Sulfonates (PFOS) and PFOS-based substances are chemicals required by the semiconductor industry for formulation of resists and anti-reflective coatings in high-end lithography. Although there is currently no known health risk associated with its use, it is a known persistent bioaccumulative toxin (PBT). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies found PFOS in very small quantities in the blood of the general human population and in wildlife, worldwide. Based on concerns about potential for systemic toxicity of PFOS and the long term potential for adverse effects in people and wildlife, 3M Company phased out PFOS chemical production. 3M has been involved in extensive research to understand the toxicological and environmental effects of PFOS. However, other chemical companies continue to produce products that break down to PFOS. Manufacturers of semiconductor wafers are concerned about the effect of PFOS on people and the environment and would like to know if they should be concerned about employee-generated lawsuits regarding the material. The primary purpose of this paper is to review available information regarding the use of PFOS in the semiconductor industry and to objectively find answers to a series of questions and concerns held by the various concerned industrial, environmental and governmental parties. A secondary objective is to determine if there are currently any lawsuits against employers in regard to PFOS exposure in the workplace. This paper will serve as a guide for the semiconductor industry in their future decisions regarding chemical selection.

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