Perspectives: Field Notes

Chronic Chemical Exposure Requires a Rethink

Industry must pay more attention to the impact of long-term contact with chemicals

By Dirk Willard, contributing editor
Nov 2, 2015

“These environmental regulations are stupid,” bellowed the operator. He often demonstrated his contempt for them by dipping his arms in toluene, carbon tetrachloride and other solvents. Engineers at Upjohn constantly warned him to wear his personal protective gear but he took no heed. Eventually, he retired. Shortly afterwards, when visiting his friends at work he often complained of forgetfulness, dizzy spells, nervous tremors and other maladies, which he chalked up to old age. A few years later, he died of cancer, his body and brain riddled with tumors.

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