Arsenic Regulated Areas – A Reality in the “Clean Semiconductor Industry”

Rubin, James (Jamie)
(Agilent Technologies, Fort Collins, CO)

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James (Jamie) Rubin Agilent Technologies The introduction of gallium arsenide (GaAs)wafer processing within Agilent Technologies, also introduced operations with significant employee exposures to inorganic arsenic and arsine gas. Employee monitoring confirmed the need to establish “arsenic regulated areas” per OSHA regulations. Inorganic arsenic exposures during maintenance operations cleaning a molecular beam epitaxial (MBE) reactor were more than fifteen times the OSHA acceptable limit. Arsine exposures exceeded our maximum detection limit of our direct reading instrumentation and were possibly at IDLH levels. Wastewater treatment processes from a GaAs wafer backgrind operation also required the establishment of an “arsenic regulated area”. This presentation will show the numerous engineering designs that were implemented to isolate these exposures from the rest of fab operations and to minimize maintenance employee exposures; however, air supplied respirators are still a necessity for the MBE maintenance operations. Designing a airline respirator system that would support several employees for several hours resulted in some innovative solutions. Air purifying respirators for the GaAs backgrind wastewater treatment operation are still used. Complying with some paragraphs of the OSHA arsenic standard seemed unreasonable and successful negotiations with local OSHA office resulted in agreements that were acceptable to OSHA and Agilent Technologies.

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