Missing link

 
Published: Wednesday 15 September 2004

Semiconductors, Cancer The UK

A group of former semiconductor workers is questioning the British government's choice of a research company to help conduct an investigation of cancer rates among a semiconductor plant's chip manufacturing workers. The group, Phase Two, argues the company's former ties to the semiconductor industry may prevent it from conducting unbiased research, reports The Scientist, a journal.

Phase Two says the Scotland-based Institute of Occupational Medicine (iom) has at least one employee who has done some consulting work at a uk branch of National Semiconductor, which is based in California.

The uk government had ordered a follow-up study after a previous smaller study found that former workers at National Semiconductor had a higher-than-average rate of certain cancers. When iom was first awarded the contract to conduct the follow-up study on the issue almost two years ago, it denied any links to the semiconductor industry, and "only admitted it had recently".

iom executives admit that an occupational hygienist of their company had worked at the plant, but say this won't cause a conflict of interest or affect research.

The protests come after another controversy over an occupational medicine journal's refusal to publish a paper that claimed that former workers in ibm semiconductor plants had a higher-than-average rate of certain cancers.

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