Fluoride Action Network

EPA finding could threaten IC production in U.S.

Source: EE Times | April 27th, 2009 | By Mark LaPedus
Industry type: Electronics Industry

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week issued a proposed finding that greenhouse gases that contribute to air pollution could endanger public health or welfare.

The finding could also endanger semiconductor production in the United States, warned Dean Freeman, an analyst at Gartner Inc. (Stamford, Conn.).

The EPA’s finding, which now moves to a public comment period, identified six greenhouse gases that pose a potential threat: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N20), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

HFCs, PFCs and SF6 gases are widely used in semiconductor production. Fab tool vendors have been proactive in controlling these gases. Most etch and deposition tools use abatement systems.

The EPA finding did not include any proposed regulations, but it could set the ”stage for regulating them under federal clean air laws,” Freeman said in a report.

”The concern that semiconductor manufacturers should have is that the EPA and Congress could potentially make the monitoring and handling of these gases so complicated and expensive that it will make using them in the semiconductor process cost-prohibitive,” he said. ”Regulations and restrictions could also drive the remaining semiconductor equipment manufacturers and semiconductor manufacturers overseas, thus creating further job losses in the United States.”

The analyst urged the semiconductor community to work with–or lobby–Congress and the EPA to find solutions and laws to keep IC production in the U.S.