Risk Analysis

Health Risk Assessment of Photoresists Used in an Optoelectronic Semiconductor Factory

Early View

Abstract Photoresist materials are indispensable in photolithography, a process used in semiconductor fabrication. The work process and potential hazards in semiconductor production have raised concerns as to adverse health effects. We therefore performed a health risk assessment of occupational exposure to positive photoresists in a single optoelectronic semiconductor factory in Taiwan. Positive photoresists are widely used in the optoelectronic semiconductor industry for photolithography. Occupational exposure was estimated using the Stoffenmanager® model. Bayesian modeling incorporated available personal air sampling data. We examined the composition and by‐products of the photoresists according to descriptions published in the literature and patents; the main compositions assessed were propylene glycol methyl ether acetate (PGMEA), novolac resin, photoactive compound, phenol, cresol, benzene, toluene, and xylene. Reference concentrations for each compound were reassessed and updated if necessary. Calculated hazard quotients were greater than 1 for benzene, phenol, xylene, and PGMEA, indicating that they have the potential for exposures that exceed reference levels. The information from our health risk assessment suggests that benzene and phenol have a higher level of risk than is currently acknowledged. Undertaking our form of risk assessment in the workplace design phase could identify compounds of major concern, allow for the early implementation of control measures and monitoring strategies, and thereby reduce the level of exposure to health risks that workers face throughout their career.

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