November 30th, 2003
To the Editor,
This article is helpful in relaying concepts of risks to workers but also plays into the great myth that one can only examine one occupational risk at a time. Indeed, the realities are only hinted at in the article which does, at one point, indicate the absence of adequate ventilation as increasing occupational health risks in these days of sealed buildings and recirculated air.
We must acknowledge well documented facts showing how common central nervous system damage is in many occupations. Studies of asthmatic workers exposed to solvents were conducted by Dr. Kaye Kilburn, showing poorer performance on measures of memory, balance and coordination indicating brain injury in addition to lung problems. The biggest surprise was when Dr. Kilburn began testing matched samples of “normal” people for comparison purposes only to find that 75% of these people were also showing damage!
We are a nation of increasingly ill persons suffering from largely preventable ailments. Rising rates of asthma, allergy, chemical sensitization, autoimmune diseases, neurological problems etc. is a function of our allowing industry to confuse the issues with “proprietary” (bought) science. We are told there is no proof of harm from the proliferation of chemicals in our homes and workplaces when the product MSDS sheets announce to all the various adverse effects one can suffer from exposures.
It is up to us to eliminate dangers from our homes and offices/workplaces since no one will do it for us. Demand full disclosure of product ingredients when you select products to buy for your home. Request MSDS sheets for products used in the workplace to determine where more benign substitutes can be used in place of toxic cleaners, pesticides, air fresheners etc. Move machinery emitting ozone and other chemicals away from desks and find out how to introduce more oxygen into the ventilation system.
Employers can easily replace disabled senior workers with less costly replacements who will accept reduced benefits packages. Medicare and Social Security Disability are poor alternatives to collecting one’s full pension after retiring in good health from a productive career.
Categories: Cleveland Plain Dealer