This article was translated by The Huffington Post from an original report by Hankyoreh, HuffPost’s local media partner in South Korea. The piece is part of Hankyoreh’s larger series on the potential health impacts of the semiconductor industry on the children of its workers.
Over the past few years, Samsung Corporation has faced a number of troubling allegations about the health of some of its workers in the company’s home base, South Korea.
Former workers and their families, along with labor activists, have said that conditions at the company’s semiconductor factories have led to higher occurrences of illnesses such as leukemia and other cancers among former semiconductor workers.
In a new series, The Huffington Post Korea and its media partner, The Hankyoreh, report that long-term exposure to toxic chemicals may not only have lasting effects for some former Samsung workers, but also for their children.
The issue of reproductive toxicity, when children fall ill because of the accumulation of various toxic compounds over a long period in their parents’ bodies, has not surfaced very often because many parents blame themselves and keep their children’s condition hidden. It is difficult for those who often could not even fathom blaming their company for their own sicknesses to connect their children’s illnesses to their workplace.
Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, world-class corporations and leaders of the Korean semiconductor industry, both deny the relationship between work conditions in semiconductor manufacturing and reproductive toxicity.
That reaction is similar to the first reports, in 2008, of “semiconductor industrial diseases” — when former Samsung workers started attributing leukemia and other diseases they had developed to conditions in semiconductor factory work. While Samsung initially denied a link between the incidents and conditions at its plants, Korean courts ruled in several cases that former Samsung semiconductor workers with leukemia were victims of industrial accidents. The ubiquitous technology giant finally issued an apology in May 2014 to workers and their families, promising appropriate compensation to workers’ families.
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