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22 workers have contracted disease

Samsung Electronics and may other makers of memory and microchips around the world sometimes use chemicals and other materials in the construction of their products that are toxic and could be lethal to humans if exposed in large doses. Samsung has been battling allegations that some workers in its plants in China have contracted cancer from exposure into the work place.

Samsung has been under pressure by activist groups to take responsibility for the incidents of workers contracting leukemia or lymphoma. So far, 22 workers from the chip plants Samsung operates have been diagnosed with lymphoma or leukemia between 1998 and 2010. Ten of these workers have died because of the diseases so far. Samsung has long maintained that the chemicals it uses in the production of chips at the plants have not caused the cancers in workers.

Samsung Memory Division president Cho Soo-in said, "We are deeply sorry about the loss of loved ones... and we've actively cooperated on epidemiologic investigations, which concluded there were no leaks of radiation." He continued saying, "But I feel we should also have done this (communicated with the public) in the first place to stop speculation from growing."

The Korea Times reports that Samsung is working hard to reduce the suspicions that the workers contracted the diseases while working at Samsung's plants. In an effort to do this, the electronics giant is opening up some of its plants to reporters. These plants are usually closely guarded and only open to visiting politicians.

The latest Samsung worker to succumb to diseases believed to be contracted at the Samsung plant was 23-year-old Park Ji-yeon, who was a worker at the Samsung plant in Onyang in the North Chungcheong Province since 2004. She died from leukemia and used an x-ray machine to check chips produced at the plant. The process produced radiation which some believe caused her leukemia.

The Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency has stated that the relationship between working conditions and leukemia is unclear. The agency stated, "The chances of males getting leukemia or cancer was lower than average, while among females, the chances of dying from the disease were 1.48 times higher than normal, which could be considered insignificant."

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RE: Cashing in?
By eddieroolz on 4/15/2010 2:39:07 PM , Rating: 2
My take is that Leukimia is a disease that develops very slowly, especially if it's a low but constant dose much like the x-ray machine.

For example, some of the survivors of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings died 20-odd years later from various forms of cancer, including Leukimia. If they survived the initial bombings, it was highly likely that they received significant dose of radiation but not quite enough to poison and kill within days.

So similarly, I think that 22 cases in a ~12 year span seems rather in line with everything else. Leukimia isn't a common illness to start with, either.

My $0.02.

RE: Cashing in?
By ChristopherO on 4/15/2010 2:52:22 PM , Rating: 2
Which would be nice if you were correct, but you're not...

Chronic leukemia can be something that you have over many years. Acute leukemia will be fatal within 3-6 months after onset if untreated. And by onset I mean, you start with *one* mutated cell out of billions of white cells, and 3-6 months later the cancerous lineage of that *one* cell can account for more than 90% of your immune system. Acute leukemia is one of the most fatal of treatable cancers.

Acute/Chronic depends purely on the type of mutation that occurs based on exposure. Just getting low dose radiation doesn't mean you end up with a chronic case -- you can have a spontaneous mutation to an acute case just as easily. The primary difference between the two types is the rate of cellular replication, acute is vastly faster. They also express different protein markers, etc, so it's functionally impossible to confuse one type for another.

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