Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Another Chemical Cover Up. And Again Workers Pay the Price

Yet another chilling story of Pantasote Inc. workers being exposed for years to highly hazardous chemicals, and the companies not letting them know that it was killing them. I'm starting to detect a pattern

Worker exposed for years to vinyl chloride have filed a lawsuit alleging "a decades-long pattern of deception and denial. It charges that the U.S. plastics industry withheld information about vinyl chloride's deadly effects, both from workers and from the government. It says that Pantasote's executives participated in the deception."

The past president, denying that there was ever any cover up of health and safety information said that "while he was aware that angiosarcoma of the liver had afflicted vinyl chloride workers elsewhere in the industry, he knew of no cancers associated with the Passaic plant."
In fact, many cancers have developed among the several thousand workers who made plastics at Pantasote from 1957 through the 1980s. The Record's review of 36 deaths found through lawsuits, newspaper obituaries, and numerous interviews revealed two deaths from angiosarcoma of the liver, one from angiosarcoma of the kidney, and one from liver disease.

Angiosarcoma of the liver occurs at the rate of one or two cases per one million people in the general population.

"Angiosarcoma is so rare that one case would be significant," said Dr. Jim Melius, former head epidemiologist for New York State and, before that, head of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's epidemiology division.


[The lawsuit] names 50 companies, insurers, and trade associations as defendants who allegedly conspired to knowingly hide vinyl chloride's dangers.

The companies disseminated a widely used document, or "chemical safety data sheet," known as SD-56 and on display at Pantasote, that said vinyl chloride was harmless at levels of 500 parts per million and below. But the industry knew as early as 1959 that the chemical caused injury at much lower levels, according to a May correspondence that passed from Dow Chemical to B.F. Goodrich as well as a November interoffice memo at Union Carbide.

The companies also conducted medical exams, experiments, and studies of their own workers without the workers' consent or knowledge and without reporting the results to the workers, the lawsuit alleges. And the companies manipulated and published fraudulent studies to conceal the dangers of vinyl chloride, documents reveal.
And while their fathers were at work, where did the children play? Check out part two.