The Environment and Health - Workplace dangers

Air and noise pollution are, as noted, common in certain industries. The materials and machines used in manufacturing processes are the usual causes of such pollution. Many controls have been mandated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but researchers have reported that some industries are experiencing increased health hazards, largely because of the materials they use.

High-tech microelectronics plants are especially threatened. According to scientists, many such plants use toxic chemicals that have been linked to reproductive disorders in both men and women. Among the high-tech hazards usually cited are glycol ethers, widely used as a solvent by manufacturers of printed circuit boards; arsenic, an element in the manufacture of some semiconductor chips; and lead, used in soldering and other operations. Some semiconductor plants are also employing radio-frequency radiation in potentially dangerous amounts to etch and clean silicon wafers.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Carpal tunnel syndrome and other neurological and musculoskeletal disorders frequently occur in the workplace and are usually the result of a repetitive motion or series of movements which strain or damage nerves and muscles. Poor posture, uncomfortable or poorly-designed chairs and equipment, and lengthy periods of the same repetitive motion exposes the nerves and muscles of the body, often the hands and arms, to agonizing pain. In most cases, behavior modification, exercises, surgeries, and specially-designed furniture or equipment can completely eradicate pain and incidence of these disorders. A physician should be consulted for individualized diagnosis and treatment.

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