A South Korean court has ruled that exposure to carcinogens at a Samsung semiconductor factory caused a worker’s ovarian cancer. The Seoul Administrative Court said it saw a “significant causal relationship” between the disease and even a low level of toxic chemicals because the worker Lee Eun-joo was exposed to carcinogens over a long period.
Media reports note that Lee died in 2012 after battling ovarian cancer for more than a decade. She worked at a Samsung chip factory for six years from 1993, starting when she was 17-years-old. The court said the glues that Lee used to put a silicon wafer on a lead frame contained formaldehyde, a top rated group 1 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carcinogen, and phenol, a known promotor of tumours, according to its material safety data sheets.
The court also implicated night shifts and the factory’s ventilation system. It ordered the government compensation agency to compensate her family. The court also said the agency should be less stringent in deciding eligibility for compensation when the cause of the disease is not completely clear cut.
In 2004, another solvent used in the semiconductor industry, ethylene glycol methyl ether (EGME), was linked to an increased ovarian and breast cancer risk in women on hormone treatments.