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[greenyes] NYTimes.com Article: IBM workers are Sick and Suspicious
Sorry for any cross-postings

This is from today's New York Times. It provides more evidence of why we need to phase out the use of the most toxic chemicals used in electronics.


Sick and Suspicious

September 4, 2003
 By BOB HERBERT



SAN JOSE, Calif. - While I.B.M. officials deny it, evidence
is being offered by stricken employees that unusually large
numbers of men and women who worked for the giant computer
corporation over the past few decades have been dying
prematurely.

I.B.M. employees, and relatives of employees who have died,
are claiming in a series of very bitter lawsuits that
I.B.M. workers have contracted cancer and other serious
illnesses from chemicals they were exposed to in
semiconductor and disk-drive manufacturing, laboratory work
and other very basic industrial operations.

Dr. Richard Clapp, a respected epidemiologist from Boston
University who was hired by a group of 40 plaintiffs in San
Jose, said statistical analyses he has run from data
provided by the company have shown troubling elevations of
breast cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and brain cancer among
I.B.M. employees. He also said the cancers appeared to be
occurring in I.B.M. employees at ages younger than the U.S.
average.

Some of the stories are chilling. Gary Adams, a chemist,
sadly offers the names of friends and co-workers from the
mid-1960's to late 1970's who were part of a small product
development group in Building 13 at the I.B.M. complex on
San Jose's South Side: John Wong, Ray Hawkins, Gordon Mol,
Dewayne Johnson, Al Smith, Dan Fields, Robert Cappell, Ken
Hart.

All of them died after contracting malignant illnesses,
most of them succumbing in their 30's and 40's. Incredibly,
four of them died after developing brain cancer, a rare
disease in adults.

"There are not many still around," said Mr. Adams, who had
a nonmalignant bone tumor removed from his left leg in 1985
and now suffers from a precancerous condition in his
esophagus. "If we'd known all this from the beginning," he
said, "we'd never have gone to work for I.B.M. We'd all
have become shoe salesmen or something."

More than 200 plaintiffs in California, New York and
Minnesota have sued I.B.M., which has spent many decades
cultivating a reputation as a corporation that emphasized
workplace safety and went out of its way to protect its
employees. The lawsuits insist that the reality was
otherwise, that officials at I.B.M. knew that workers were
being put at risk of contracting cancer and other serious
illnesses by their regular exposure to a variety of
poisonous chemicals, many known to be carcinogens.

Companies that provided chemicals to I.B.M. are also
defendants in the suits. The workers were not told of the
risks, according to the lawsuits, even after they began
showing symptoms of systemic chemical poisoning.

Alida Hernandez, a retired I.B.M. employee, held a number
of jobs that required her to work with toxic chemicals. She
learned she had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy in
1993. She told me this week, "If they had told me when I
first interviewed that I would be working with hazardous
chemicals that might cause cancer, I would not have gone to
work."

I.B.M. has vehemently denied all of the plaintiffs' claims,
and is being represented by Jones Day, one of the firms
that represented R. J. Reynolds in the tobacco industry's
fight against a long line of lawsuits.

I.B.M. officials have said all along - and repeated to me
this week - that they do not believe there is any
scientific basis for any of the plaintiffs' claims. There
is no evidence, they said, that any employee contracted
cancer as a result of exposure to chemicals at I.B.M. In a
work force as large as I.B.M.'s, they said, many workers
will die from many different illnesses, including cancer.

I.B.M. officials also said they will present their own
experts who will refute Dr. Clapp's findings.

Four of the 40 lawsuits in San Jose are due to go to trial
next month. All the suits are being watched extremely
closely by the semiconductor industry, which had been
warned for years that chip-making and other processes
requiring the use of tremendous amounts of toxic chemicals
might be associated with cancers, miscarriages, birth
defects and other very serious health problems.

The processes at most U.S. plants, including I.B.M.'s, have
improved. They are much cleaner and are believed to be much
safer now. But an extraordinary number of workers were
employed in the older facilities as the computer industry
grew with breathtaking speed to become one of the dominant
forces in American life in the last half of the 20th
century.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/04/opinion/04HERB.html?ex=1063657842&ei=1&en=e225efd32c68f511


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Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Ted Smith
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition/Computer TakeBack Campaign
760 N. First Street,San Jose, CA 95112
408-287-6707-phone;  408-287-6771-fax
http://www.svtc.org/ http://www.computertakeback.com
=========================================
Food for thought:  How Gandhi Defined the Seven Deadly Sins
· Wealth without work; · Pleasure without conscience; · Knowledge without character;· Commerce without morality;
· Science without humanity;· Worship without sacrifice;· Politics without principle




Ted Smith
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition/Computer TakeBack Campaign
760 N. First Street,San Jose, CA 95112
408-287-6707-phone;  408-287-6771-fax
http://www.svtc.org/    http://www.computertakeback.com
=========================================
Food for thought:  How Gandhi Defined the Seven Deadly Sins
· Wealth without work; · Pleasure without conscience; · Knowledge without character;· Commerce without morality;
· Science without humanity;· Worship without sacrifice;· Politics without principle




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