Objectives Since a series of papers to report reproductive problems among semiconductor workers in mid-2000s, there have been few studies to monitor such issues in spite of global expansion and technical development of semiconductor industry. In such a context, we examined reproductive risk among female workers in Korea.
Method Based on the claim data of the National Health Insurance from 2008 to 2012, we estimated age-specific rates of spontaneous abortion (SA) and menstrual aberration (MA) among women aged 20 to 39 years, and then compared them between exposure and control groups using relative risk (RR). Semiconductor workers were defined as exposure group, and three different groups were used as controls; first, economically inactive women, second, working population in total, and last, workers employed in bank industry.
Results Female workers in semiconductor industry have significantly higher risk for SA (RR 1.57 and 1.58 for 20–29 and 30–39 years old, respectively) and MA (RR 1.54 and 1.25 for 20–29 and 30–39 years old, respectively) compared to economically inactive population. RRs for SA (RR 1.40 and 1.67) and MA (RR 1.38 and 1.35) were significantly higher compared to working population in total. RRs for SA and MA also were significantly higher compared to workers employed in bank except for RR of SA for the twenties.
Conclusions In spite of technical innovations and health and safety measures taken by semiconductor industry, workers seem to be still exposed to reproductive risk, at least in Korea. Further studies to identify specific hazards should be launched.
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