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 U.S. semiconductor industry, one of the country’s top export sectors, is responsible for a fraction of one percent of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the EPA’s most recent GHG Reporting Program data (2014).  The EPA data shows that out of 5.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mmt CO2e) emitted by industrial facilities in the U.S., only 3,204 mmt CO2e -- or 0.177 percent -- is emitted by electronics manufacturers, including semiconductor 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 implementing a new 10-year reduction goal.

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.

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 throughout the economy.  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 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. 

May 25, 2018 World Semiconductor Council (WSC) Joint Statement - May 2018

Feb 15, 2018 Comments of Global Semiconductor Associations to the Stockholm Convention on PFOS

Jan 11, 2018 Mercury Reporting Requirements for the TSCA Mercury Inventory

Mar 15, 2017 SIA Comments to EPA on N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP)

Jan 26, 2017 Comments to EPA on Significant New Use Rule (SNUR)

Dec 1, 2016 SIA Letter to President-Elect Trump on Semiconductor Industry Policy Priorities

Nov 30, 2016 Tech Coalition Letter to President-Elect Trump

May 26, 2016 Dear Colleague Letter from Senate Co-Chairs of Semiconductor Caucus on Chemicals Reform Bill

May 24, 2016 Dear Colleague Letter from House Co-Chairs of Semiconductor Caucus on Chemicals Reform Bill

Jan 15, 2016 SIA Comments to EPA on Proposed Changes to GHG Reporting Rule

Nov 10, 2015 SIA Input Regarding Abatement Requirement in Product Environmental Standards

Nov 9, 2015 SIA Comments on China's Draft "Emission Standard of Pollutants for Electrical Industry"

Aug 4, 2015 SIA Comments to EPA on Nanomaterials

Jun 26, 2015 SIA Comments to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Pending Proposal to Restrict the Use of Certain Chemicals

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

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