SIA Semiconductors

Policy Priorities

Environment, Safety & Health

The semiconductor industry is an acknowledged global leader in promoting environmental sustainability in the design, manufacture, and use of its products, as well as the health and safety of its operations and impacts on workers in semiconductor facilities (fabs).  

The semiconductor industry has an outstanding safety record for workers at fabs.  SIA surveys its companies annually, and the incidents of injuries and illness in the semiconductor industry are well below the national average.  

In addition, SIA has led efforts to study the health impacts of semiconductor manufacturing on cleanroom workers.  SIA commissioned an exhaustive, five-year epidemiological study conducted by researchers from Vanderbilt University that covered more than 100,000 semiconductor industry workers.  The findings of the study were published in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and concluded:  “Work in the US semiconductor industry, including semiconductor wafer fabrication in cleanrooms, was not associated with increased cancer mortality overall or mortality from any specific form of cancer.”  The study also found no evidence of increased mortality from all causes or from all cancers when comparing employees working in cleanrooms to non-fabrication workers. 

All of SIA's EHS committees are working to develop and incorporate environmental, safety, and health solutions early in the design of future processes, equipment, and clean rooms. Toward this end, SIA member companies are key contributors to leading research institutions focused on sustainability in the semiconductor industry, including the International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI), the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) Engineering Research Center for Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing, and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE).  SIA also conducts annual surveys to obtain data on the environmental impacts of semiconductor manufacturing in order to enable the development of best practices.

Semiconductors are a foundation of modern computers, information technology, and communications products, and our products are also ubiquitous in advanced manufacturing processes, transportation systems, health care devices, building controls, energy generation equipment, and other sectors of the economy.  As a result, semiconductors are a key enabling technology to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption.  In short, semiconductors are a key part to addressing global climate change while also advancing economic growth.

According to a study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the adoption of semiconductor-enabled technologies has resulted in significant energy savings throughout the economy.  Moreover, the study found that if new policies accelerated adoption of these technologies by just one percentage point per year, electricity demand in 2030 could be 1.2 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) lower than the Department of Energy’s reference case, a scenario that had already assumed substantial savings from implementation of semiconductor enabled efficiency applications compared to “frozen efficiency” case that posited continued reliance on today’s technologies.

The US semiconductor industry, one of the country’s top export sectors, is responsible for less than one-tenth of one percent of US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the EPA’s most recent GHG Reporting Program data (2011).  The EPA data shows that out of 6.7 billion metric tons of Co2 emitted by the entire US, only 5.4 million metric tons – or 0.08 percent – is emitted by electronics manufacturers.  Most of the industry’s emissions are associated with the use of fluorinated gases (F-gases) used in complex manufacturing processes, without which advanced semiconductor manufacturing is not technically feasible.  

Although the industry contributes only a very small amount of GHG emissions, SIA and its members have been engaged in ongoing efforts to reduce these emissions.  

  • Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with EPA, SIA members voluntarily reported on their emissions of PFCs, a category of GHGs.  Under this agreement, SIA members reduced their collective absolute US emissions of F-gases by more than 35% since 1995; and down 50% from their peak in 1999.
  • SIA and its members have participated in the efforts of the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) to reduce emissions of PFCs.  The global industry committed to a 10 percent reduction from a baseline year, and in 2011 the industry announced that it far surpassed this goal and achieved a reduction of 32 percent in absolute emissions.  To build on this success, the global industry is working toward achievement of a new 10-year reduction goal.



In recognition of this effort, in 1998 the EPA granted WSC one of its first Climate Protection Awards.

The process of manufacturing semiconductors in fabs relies on the highly controlled use of limited quantities of chemicals.  Some of these chemicals have been identified as posing environmental or health concerns, and the industry has responded by (a) researching alternatives to these chemicals, (b) phasing out non-essential uses, and (c) identifying substitutes in even critical uses.

For example, the industry has used small amounts of Perfluorooctyl Sulfonates (PFOS) compounds, which have been critical ingredients in leading edge photoresists and antireflective coatings, materials used in the photolithographic process for imprinting circuitry on silicon wafers.  When governments identified these compounds as presenting environmental or health risks, SIA and its partners in the global industry responded to address these concerns.  In 2006, SIA and the WSC, in conjunction with the suppliers of semiconductor equipment, announced a plan to end non-critical uses of perfluorooctyl sulfonate (PFOS) chemicals in semiconductor manufacturing and to work to identify substitutes for PFOS in all critical uses.  The industry has succeeded in eliminating virtually all uses of PFOS at this time, and remaining uses are being phased out.

Similarly, in 1989, in response to conflicting reports about potential cleanroom hazards to reproductive health, SIA funded and implemented one of the largest epidemiological studies ever performed by private industry. The study's findings and recommendations led the industry to voluntarily agree to eliminate certain solvents that had been used in photolithography formulations.

Feb 26, 2015 SIA Comments to FDA on chemicals GBL-BDO

Oct 29, 2014 SIA comments to EPA on potential changes to its comprehensive Risk Management Program (RMP)

Sep 30, 2014 SIA Comments to OSTP on Critical and Strategic Materials

Sep 23, 2014 SIA Comments to OSTP and NEC on White House Strategy for American Innovation

Sep 2, 2014 Comments on EPA Proposal to Modify Global Warming Potentials (GWPs)

Jul 23, 2014 SIA Comments on EPA Greenhouse Gas Data Aggregation Proposal

Mar 12, 2014 SIA Comments on China "Clean Production" System

Mar 12, 2014 SIA Testimony on Vermont Chemicals Bill (S.239)

Jan 28, 2014 Testimony on the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 (S. 1600)

Dec 18, 2013 SIA Comments on National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) Strategic Plan

Dec 18, 2013 Summary of SIA Comments on National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) Strategic Plan

Sep 25, 2013 Coalition Letter to House of Representatives Urging Passage of H.R. 527 as amended

Aug 20, 2013 SIA comments to EPA on a emissions scenario document (ESD) on semiconductor chemical vapor deposition (CVD)

Jul 11, 2013 SIA testimony before Environment and the Economy Subcommittee regarding the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

Jun 27, 2013 SIA Board of Directors Letter to Senate Leadership Urging Prompt Action on Helium Legislation

May 17, 2013 Comments on Global Warming Potential (GWP) of gases used in semiconductor manufacturing

May 7, 2013 Comments on Mandatory Reporting of GHGs

May 7, 2013 Letter on National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) Decree No.21

May 7, 2013 Testimony in support of helium legislation from Carolyn Duran, Intel, before Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee

Apr 30, 2013 Electronics Industry Comments on Proposed Regulation on Safer Consumer Products (R-2011-02, April 2013)

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