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The Electronic Industry

  • E. J. Roberts
  • V. Smith
  • John S. C. English
Living reference work entry

Abstract

The electronic industry employs millions of people worldwide. The size of workforce and the use of hazardous chemicals may lead one to suppose that the number of occupational dermatological cases should be large.

The industry is constantly changing as a result of evolving scientific knowledge and increasing demand. The manufacture of goods is evermore automated. There is heightened productivity. Cheap labor costs elsewhere means that the UK workforce is now more involved with product design and innovation.

A semiconductor is a material that has an electrical conductivity between that of a conductor and an insulator. Devices made from these materials form the vital components of almost all electronic products. Historically silicon has been the most widely used, though gallium arsenide and various other materials are assuming increasing importance.

The basic steps involved in chip manufacture are chip design, crystal purification and growth, wafer preparation, epitaxy and oxidation, photolithography, doping and type conversion, metallization, and interconnection formation. Device assembly involves chip separation, die attach bonding, wire bonding, encapsulation, housing, marking, and testing.

New materials are developed and used before reliable toxicological data is produced. Secrecy within the industry makes it impossible to produce exhaustive lists of the chemicals used. To investigate a case of occupational-related dermatosis, patients must be managed individually, taking into account at which stage in chip manufacturing they work and what chemicals they use.

There is little information available on precisely how common occupationally related skin disorders in this industry are. Both ICD and ACD appear to be important, and the major hazards are solvents, metals, soldering flux, epoxy and acrylate resins, oils and coolants, fiberglass, and rubber chemicals.

Despite the size and hazards of the electronic industry, it is considered to be relatively safe with regard to cutaneous risk. The incidence of occupational skin disease among its workers is much lower than in other manufacturing industries. This may be due to processes taking place in closed systems with a high degree of automation. Worker exposure to the chemicals involved is minimal; but cleaning, repair, and maintenance staff are at special risk. However, the lower incidence may be accounted for by the industry being “top heavy,” the underreporting of skin disease, and debate over which processes fall into the “electronic industry.”

Keywords

Irritant contact dermatitis Allergic contact dermatitis Solvents Metals Soldering flux Epoxy and acrylate resins Oils and coolants Fiberglass Rubber chemicals 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. J. Roberts
    • 1
  • V. Smith
    • 2
  • John S. C. English
    • 1
  1. 1.Nottingham Circle NHS Treatment CentreNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Salisbury District HospitalSalisburyUK

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