Killers Have a Lot in Common
ESD & CAD
by: Art Varga
President Emeritus, Midwest Chapter ESD Association
Century Container Corp. 708-681-8954
(article first appeared
in the Newsletter of the Midwest Chapter of ESD Association)
During my recovery from coronary
by-pass surgery, I began to realize some strong similarities
between electrostatic discharge (ESD) and coronary artery
disease (CAD). Perhaps, by writing an article about these
parallels, some of my colleagues might take an interest in
extending their lives as well as the lives of ESD susceptible
ESD - a Type of EOS
Electrostatic discharge, a form of electrical
over-stress (EOS), is the primary cause of failures in the
electronics industry. Accounting for 25% of the system failures
and costing the industry an estimated $40 Billion per year,
ESD is a major threat. Studies from the telephone industry
have shown that EOS/ESD causes 27% of the circuit card failures
and ESD causes 30 - 50 % of individual component failures.
CAD - a Type of Cardiovascular Disease
Coronary artery disease, along with high blood
pressure, stroke, and rheumatic heart disease, is a form of
cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association,
cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the
U.S., accounting for 45% of all deaths. An estimated 70 million
Americans, about one in every four people, are afflicted.
One American dies from cardiovascular disease every 34 seconds,
claiming nearly 2,500 lives each day. Based on an average
life span of the 75 years, cardiovascular disease causes premature
deaths by 5.4 million years, with medical costs exceeding
$117 Billion each year.
Coronary artery disease alone causes more
than 1.5 million heart attacks and half a million deaths each
year. Coronary artery disease is a condition caused by the
build up of cholesterol and fat, called plaque, which forms
on the inner walls of blood vessels. These layers of plaque
obstruct blood flow and harden the arteries, limiting their
ability to expand and contract as the heart pumps. As cholesterol
deposits thicken, the narrowed blood vessels cannot deliver
the amount of oxygen rich blood necessary for the heart muscle
to function properly. Moreover, the narrowed coronary arteries
can become blocked by clot, shutting off blood flow, and resulting
in a heart attack.
What Can We Do?
Knowing what we know now, are we ready for
the challenge? Or, are we just going to shrug our shoulders
and continue down the same destructive paths?
Both ESD and CAD are controllable. Note that
I have stopped short of saying that they are totally preventable.
ESD events result from the transfer of electrons from one
object to another. They almost always occur, but we can minimize
their magnitude and eliminate damage by controlling the environment
where ESD susceptible devices are handled.
A similar approach is necessary in the prevention
/ control of CAD. Diet, exercise, and stress management are
critical control program components for cardiovascular disease.
Still, CAD can result from a particular form of low-density
lipoprotein, Lipoprotein (a), which is genetically determined
and can vary in individuals by a factor of 1,000. While Lp(a)
appears to be unresponsive to dietetic treatment, some studies
show that niacin and estrogen may be effective medical treatments.
It is essential for people with Lp (a) to follow all treatments
for CAD with strict discipline.
Accepting the Challenge
No matter which, ESD or CAD, the first step
begins by learning all that we can about the problem and prevent
future occurrences. Then, we must take action, practice and
improve our prevention techniques, and not give up.
The biggest problem with ESD control is the
loss of commitment. Wrist straps, heel grounders, mats, etc.,
are only a part of the ESD solution. On-going training and
auditing of the process is what makes an ESD control program
The same is true for controlling CAD. We must
take action and remain committed. We can't eat cheeseburgers,
fries, and milkshakes and expect to keep our cholesterol in
check. We can't continue to smoke or be a couch potato either.
For ESD, remove all non-essential charge-generating
materials and treat essential items with anti-stats, and ionization.
Make sure all groundable items are tied to the common point
ground system. Make measurements on all ESD materials and
tools before placing them into service, and audit them on
a regular basis.
ESD control is essential in the manufacture,
shipping, installation, operation, and repair of all types
of electronic components and system assemblies. An effective
ESD control program is no longer optional, due to the increased
susceptibility of new technology.
For CAD, eliminate high fat, high cholesterol
foods from your diet. If you smoke, quit. Smoking, and even
breathing environmental tobacco smoke, accelerates the aging
of arteries. Make sure to see your doctor and follow his/her
recommendations for diet and exercise. Learn to manage stress.
There are many good references that provide
details on CAD. I suggest reading Joseph Piscatella's book,
Don't Eat Your Heart Out, and Dean Ornisj's
Program for Reversing Heart Disease.
ESD over-stresses susceptible components much
like CAD over-stresses the heart. As ESD practitioners, we
learn to eliminate and control static electricity. To remain
heart healthy, we must learn how to control and prevent the
formation of plaque in our coronary arteries. I hope that
this article will serve as a call to action for the control
of EOS/ESD and cardiovascular disease.