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New IBM Health Data Shatters Silicon Valley Dreams  Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
 Sep 16, 2003 21:27 PDT 

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Apologies for multiple postings---

September 16, 2003

Dear Friends,
The New York Times has run a series of opinion pieces that illuminated the
claims by workers and health and safety advocates that their exposure to
toxic chemicals in the high-tech workplace is connected to their illnesses,
cancers, and miscarriages. These articles relate to IBM workers in
California, New York, Vermont and Minnesota.

There are 3 things you can do:
1) please help circulate this information to your list-serves
2) Write to Bob Herbert and thank him for writing the series. You can write
to Bob using the links on the web site at
http://www.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/bobherbert/index.html
3) contact your local paper and encourage them to re-run the series

If the links for the New York Times don't work, visit:
http://www.svtc.org/media/media2003.htm#health

157ba62.jpg

September 4, 2003 - Clouds in Silicon Valley
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/08/opinion/08HERB.html?ex=1064003780&ei=1&en=2a8a8cd4066c3c7a

September 9, 2003 - Sick and Suspicious
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/04/opinion/04HERB.html?ex=1063658096&ei=1&en=246fb1152c68f4f9

September 12, 2003 - Early Warnings
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/12/opinion/12HERB.html?ex=1064378504&ei=1&en=c033ba269bbc8f24

September 15, 2003 - I.B.M. Families Ask 'Why'?
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/15/opinion/15HERB.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists%2fBob%20Herbert


September 4, 2003

Clouds in Silicon Valley
By BOB HERBERT, OP-ED COLUMNIST, New York Times

SAN JOSE, Calif.
It was a special occasion, a dinner party at Le Papillon restaurant to
celebrate Ron Loanzon's 50th birthday. Everyone was having a great time
until Mr. Loanzon dropped his fork.

This was on March 16, 1999. The fork fell to the floor and Mr. Loanzon
tried to reach for it. But he couldn't. He just stared at it. He didn't say
anything, just stared with a peculiar expression that frightened his relatives.

"In his mind, he was bending and reaching for it," said his wife, Cora, in
an interview a few days ago. "He was trying, but nothing happened."

The relatives waited for this odd moment to pass, but it didn't, and Mr.
Loanzon had to be taken to a hospital. A malignant brain tumor was
discovered. Nine months later Mr. Loanzon, an I.B.M. employee who worked
with the highly toxic chemicals used in electronic manufacturing, was dead.

Rudy Rubio's wife, Suzanne, also worked at the I.B.M. complex here in the
heart of Silicon Valley. "She worked in a clean room," said Mr. Rubio,
referring to the high-tech, supposedly pristine environment in which chips
and disks are fabricated.

The pristine environment is for the sake of the products, which can be
ruined by even a speck of dust. At the same time, the hazardous chemicals
used in the process are capable of doing devastating physical damage to the
workers.

No one has a clear understanding of the extent of the danger to workers
over the past few decades. It's indisputable that large numbers of men and
women who worked with these chemicals, some of them known to be
carcinogens, have come down with cancer and other serious diseases. But no
one knows whether there is a real causal connection. Many loud warnings
have been issued since at least the late-1970's, but the proper studies
have not been done.

Mrs. Rubio learned she had cancer in 1987 and underwent a modified radical
mastectomy, on her right breast. Soon after surgery she was put back to
work in the same environment, working with the same toxic chemicals. Still
experiencing discomfort from the surgery, Mrs. Rubio complained to her
bosses that her right arm had begun to hurt. An I.B.M. medical history
sheet dated Nov. 16, 1987, said she was "advised to move her trays to the
left side" and continue doing her work with her left arm.

Lawyers for the Rubio family said she continued working in clean rooms
throughout 1988 and 1989. During that time, they said, she was exposed to a
"witches' brew" of foul chemicals. In 1990 cancer was again diagnosed, and
this time it spread through much of her body. She died on Jan. 19, 1991.
She was 36.

The semiconductor industry has reacted with near paranoia to any suggestion
that anyone has gotten sick or died from working with these chemicals. The
manufacturing processes have improved and safety is less of a problem now
than in years past. The last thing the industry wants to hear about is the
possibility that large numbers of workers have already died and many others
are desperately sick from chemicals in the semiconductor workplace.

But there is a compelling need to know whether some of the men and women
who did the grunt work in the creation of a fantastic new industry
sacrificed their health and their lives in the process.

The absence of definitive studies left a vacuum that all but assured the
matter would end up in the courts. More than 200 plaintiffs in California,
New York and Minnesota have sued I.B.M. and some of its chemical suppliers
for damages. The fighting between the two sides has been ferocious.

One of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Richard Alexander of the Alexander, Hawes
& Audet law firm in San Jose, said I.B.M. officials never took steps to
warn or properly protect employees even though the officials "knew that
toxic chemicals were causing disease" and an unusual number of I.B.M.
workers "were dying decades before expected."

Representatives of I.B.M. have said there's no evidence anyone has died
from chemical exposure in the workplace and, in background conversations,
have spoken venomously about the motives and tactics of the lawyers and
others who have gone to bat for the plaintiffs.
As the years pass, the heartbreaking cases are piling up. A disinterested,
third-party study — rigorous and comprehensive — could provide answers to
the crucial question of whether some of that heartbreak is linked to the
workplace.

Copyright 2003 - New York Times
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

September 9, 2003

Sick and Suspicious
By BOB HERBERT, OP-ED COLUMNIST, New York Times


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.

Copyright 2003 - New York Times
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

September 12, 2003

Early Warnings
By BOB HERBERT, OP-ED COLUMNIST, New York Times

Ethylene glycol ethers are a group of organic solvents that proved to be
extremely effective at coating surfaces evenly. They've been used in
paints, nail polish, de-icers and many other products. One of their most
important industrial applications was in the semiconductor industry. These
marvelous chemicals, E.G.E.'s, were the key ingredients in a solution used
in the fabrication of computer chips.

But there were some problems. Studies began emerging in the late 1970's
that showed these chemicals wreaking havoc with the reproductive processes
in rodents. They were linked to testicular damage, miscarriages and birth
defects.

Even as the warnings grew louder, workers by the thousands were toiling in
the "clean rooms" where extraordinary amounts of toxic chemicals, including
E.G.E.'s, were being put to use in the manufacture of chips, disks and
other electronic components.

In the early 1980's, both the National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health and the California
Department of Health Services issued alerts regarding workers exposed to
E.G.E.'s. The fear was that the reproductive problems found in the animal
studies might also be occurring in humans.

Some industries moved with dispatch to get E.G.E's out of the workplace.
But the booming semiconductor industry, which powered the spectacular
computer revolution that shaped the last third of the 20th century, was not
one of them.

Worker safety would have to wait.

The awareness of a potential problem was certainly there. In the spring of
1982, the Semiconductor Industry Association formally alerted industry
executives to the results from the animal studies. And the following
September the Chemical Manufacturers Association issued an alert.

Years passed, additional documentation piled up, and studies of humans
began to turn up problems similar to those found in animals.

By the late 1980's, the industry could no longer hide from the issue. A
study at a Digital Equipment Corporation plant in Hudson, Mass., had shown
a marked increase in miscarriages among semiconductor workers. Industry
leaders immediately complained that the sample was too small.
Larger studies were commissioned by both the Semiconductor Industry
Association and I.B.M.

The hope at the time was that the larger studies would refute the findings
of the smaller one. The opposite occurred.

The I.B.M. study was conducted by Johns Hopkins University, and it found a
big link between miscarriages and exposure to E.G.E.'s. "Women with the
highest exposure potential,"
the study said, "had a threefold increased risk of spontaneous abortion
compared to female employees with no potential for direct exposure to E.G.E."

The study said, "We also found evidence that the work on processes with
direct exposure to E.G.E. was associated with an increased risk of
subfertility in female employees and a suggestion of a similar effect in
male employees and their wives."

The study by the Semiconductor Industry Association came up with similar
findings. The reproductive havoc was not limited to rodents.

I.B.M. stopped using E.G.E.'s in all new processes in 1992 and finally
stopped using them altogether in 1995, a decade and a half after the
warnings began circulating. No one knows how many workers may have been
harmed in that period.

A spokesman for I.B.M. said in an e-mail message yesterday that "finding
suitable alternative materials for processes in semiconducting
manufacturing is a complex process."

A peculiar thing about the I.B.M. study was that while it focused on
reproductive processes right up until the moment of birth, it did not study
the health outcomes of newborns - to what extent, for example, they might
have suffered from birth defects.

In the damage suits that have been brought against I.B.M.by more than 200
of its employees are a number of cases of hideous birth defects that the
plaintiffs allege were caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, including
ethylene glycol ethers.

I.B.M. has already thrown in the towel in one case, that of Zachary
Ruffing, a teenager who was born blind and extremely deformed to parents
who had both worked in the company's plant in East Fishkill, N.Y., in the
1980's.

While I.B.M. and two of its chemical suppliers agreed to settle the case,
they did not acknowledge that they had done anything wrong.

Copyright 2003 - New York Times
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

September 15, 2003
OP-ED COLUMNIST
I.B.M. Families Ask, 'Why?'
By BOB HERBERT


GOSHEN, N.Y.
The Daley twins, Kate and Kelly, are 24 years old, witty, charming and,
above all, intelligent. You couldn't necessarily tell from just talking
with them that they had been the victims of a catastrophe.
But you can tell by looking at them.

Kate and Kelly have been profoundly disfigured by a rare degenerative skin
disease that literally ravaged their bodies from head to foot. They were
born with the disease, epidermolysis bullosa. Its appalling effect has been
comparable to being burned every day of one's life.

The twins' bodies are almost completely covered with blisters, sores and
terrible wounds that resist healing. They have undergone more than 30
surgeries each. The disease and relentless surgery have all but destroyed
their hands, which are now little more than stumps. At times they are
unable to open their eyes because of corneal abrasions. When they testified
before Congress three years ago in a plea for more funding for research on
the disease, Kelly said, "I live in a body that has turned on itself."

When I asked during an interview last week how they managed to keep their
spirits up, Kate gave a wry laugh and said, "Antidepressants help."

I interviewed them in the office of one of their lawyers, William DeProspo,
and in the presence of their father, Chris Daley, who was employed at the
I.B.M. plant in East Fishkill, N.Y., from 1973 to 1993. During most of that
time he worked extensively with chemicals, pouring and mixing them, storing
them and disposing of them, he said. Many of the chemicals were extremely
dangerous, and he believes his exposure to them was the cause of the birth
defects that have plagued his daughters.

Many of the damage suits brought against I.B.M. by individuals claiming to
have been harmed by chemicals in the workplace involve birth defects
suffered by the children of employees. The stories are inevitably
heartbreaking. Heather Curtis said she worked with chemicals at I.B.M.
while she was pregnant in 1980. Her daughter, Candacé, was born with
microcephaly, an abnormality that retarded the development of her brain,
and no knees. She was unable to breathe on her own and was not physically
capable of talking. Ms. Curtis has a son who was born before Candacé and a
son born after her, and both are normal.

Nancy LaCroix has worked for about 20 years at I.B.M.'s huge plant in Essex
Junction, near Burlington, Vt. She said she worked in areas in which she
was surrounded by chemical fumes ("it really smelled bad in there") and
employees at times had to leave their work stations because of burning eyes
and nostrils.

In 1999 her daughter Ally was born with severe bone defects, including
encephalocele, a condition in which a portion of the brain protrudes
through a defect in the skull. Ally's fingers are stunted and "tapered like
a starfish," said Ms. LaCroix, "and she really doesn't have toes."

The child has had eight operations and extensive physical therapy. Now 4
1/2, she complains about headaches "every single day," her mother said.

There is a long list of young people and children who have suffered tragic
birth defects — spina bifida, missing or deformed limbs, a missing kidney,
a missing vagina, blindness — whose parents (in some cases both parents)
worked for I.B.M. and are now suing.

Plaintiffs' lawyers contend there are higher than normal rates of birth
defects among I.B.M. employees who have worked with the toxic chemicals
that are common to semiconductor manufacturing.

One of the lawyers, Steven Phillips of Manhattan, said: "These cases are
extreme. I've never seen children as badly hurt as these."

I.B.M. strongly denies that there are more instances of birth defects in
the children of its employees than among the population in general. And
representatives have repeatedly said there is no scientific evidence
associating chemicals in its workplaces with birth defects, cancers or any
other illnesses or abnormalities.

The legal process will determine whether the plaintiffs in these suits
deserve to be compensated. The larger question is whether the chemicals
used in the semiconductor industry, not just at I.B.M. but throughout the
U.S. and around the world, have harmed large numbers of workers and their
offspring. And if so, what should be done to aid those individuals, and to
prevent the harm from continuing.

copyright New York Times 2003

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
FAIR USE NOTICE. The articles in this section of our web site contains
copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the
copyright owner. Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition is making this articles
available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological
sustainability, environmental and community health, economic democracy,
workplace health and safety issues, corporate accountability, and social
justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a `fair use' of the
copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright
Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own
that go beyond `fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright
owner.

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<html>
Apologies for multiple postings---<br><br>
September 16, 2003<br><br>
Dear Friends,<br>
The New York Times has run a series of opinion pieces that illuminated
the claims by workers and health and safety advocates that their exposure
to toxic chemicals in the high-tech workplace is connected to their
illnesses, cancers, and miscarriages. These articles relate to IBM
workers in California, New York, Vermont and Minnesota. <br><br>
There are 3 things you can do:<br>
1) please help circulate this information to your list-serves<br>
2) Write to Bob Herbert and thank him for writing the series. You can
write to Bob using the links on the web site at
<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/bobherbert/index.html" eudora="autourl"><font color="#0000FF"><u>http://www.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/bobherbert/index.html</a><br>
</u></font>3) contact your local paper and encourage them to re-run the
series<br><br>
If the links for the New York Times don't work, visit:<br>
<a href="http://www.svtc.org/media/media2003.htm#health" eudora="autourl">http://www.svtc.org/media/media2003.htm#health</a><br><br>
<img src="cid:5.1.1.6.0.2003091-@pop.igc.org.1" width=400 height=58 alt="157ba62.jpg"><br><br>
<b>September 4, 2003</b> - <font color="#800080"><b><i>Clouds in Silicon
Valley<br>
</i></b></font><font size=2 color="#0000FF"><u><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/08/opinion/08HERB.html?ex=1064003780&;ei=1&en=2a8a8cd4066c3c7a" eudora="autourl">http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/08/opinion/08HERB.html?ex=1064003780&ei=1&en=2a8a8cd4066c3c7a</a><br><br>
</u></font><b>September 9, 2003</b> - <font color="#800080"><b><i>Sick
and Suspicious<br>
</i></b></font><font size=2 color="#0000FF"><u><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/04/opinion/04HERB.html?ex=1063658096&;ei=1&en=246fb1152c68f4f9" eudora="autourl">http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/04/opinion/04HERB.html?ex=1063658096&ei=1&en=246fb1152c68f4f9</a><br><br>
</u></font><b>September 12, 2003</b> - <font color="#800080"><b><i>Early
Warnings<br>
</i></b></font><font size=2 color="#0000FF"><u><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/12/opinion/12HERB.html?ex=1064378504&;ei=1&en=c033ba269bbc8f24" eudora="autourl">http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/12/opinion/12HERB.html?ex=1064378504&ei=1&en=c033ba269bbc8f24</a><br><br>
</u></font><b>September 15, 2003</b> - <font color="#800080"><b><i>I.B.M.
Families Ask 'Why'?<br>
</i></b></font><font size=2 color="#800080"><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/15/opinion/15HERB.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists%2fBob%20Herbert" eudora="autourl">http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/15/opinion/15HERB.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists%2fBob%20Herbert</a><br><br>
<br>
</font><b>September 4, 2003<br><br>
<font size=5>Clouds in Silicon Valley<br>
</font>By BOB HERBERT, <font color="#808080">OP-ED COLUMNIST</b></font>,
New York Times<br><br>
SAN JOSE, Calif.<br>
It was a special occasion, a dinner party at Le Papillon restaurant to
celebrate Ron Loanzon's 50th birthday. Everyone was having a great time
until Mr. Loanzon dropped his fork.<br><br>
This was on March 16, 1999. The fork fell to the floor and Mr. Loanzon
tried to reach for it. But he couldn't. He just stared at it. He didn't
say anything, just stared with a peculiar expression that frightened his
relatives.<br><br>
"In his mind, he was bending and reaching for it," said his
wife, Cora, in an interview a few days ago. "He was trying, but
nothing happened."<br><br>
The relatives waited for this odd moment to pass, but it didn't, and Mr.
Loanzon had to be taken to a hospital. A malignant brain tumor was
discovered. Nine months later Mr. Loanzon, an I.B.M. employee who worked
with the highly toxic chemicals used in electronic manufacturing, was
dead.<br><br>
Rudy Rubio's wife, Suzanne, also worked at the I.B.M. complex here in the
heart of Silicon Valley. "She worked in a clean room," said Mr.
Rubio, referring to the high-tech, supposedly pristine environment in
which chips and disks are fabricated.<br><br>
The pristine environment is for the sake of the products, which can be
ruined by even a speck of dust. At the same time, the hazardous chemicals
used in the process are capable of doing devastating physical damage to
the workers.<br><br>
No one has a clear understanding of the extent of the danger to workers
over the past few decades. It's indisputable that large numbers of men
and women who worked with these chemicals, some of them known to be
carcinogens, have come down with cancer and other serious diseases. But
no one knows whether there is a real causal connection. Many loud
warnings have been issued since at least the late-1970's, but the proper
studies have not been done.<br><br>
Mrs. Rubio learned she had cancer in 1987 and underwent a modified
radical mastectomy, on her right breast. Soon after surgery she was put
back to work in the same environment, working with the same toxic
chemicals. Still experiencing discomfort from the surgery, Mrs. Rubio
complained to her bosses that her right arm had begun to hurt. An I.B.M.
medical history sheet dated Nov. 16, 1987, said she was "advised to
move her trays to the left side" and continue doing her work with
her left arm.<br><br>
Lawyers for the Rubio family said she continued working in clean rooms
throughout 1988 and 1989. During that time, they said, she was exposed to
a "witches' brew" of foul chemicals. In 1990 cancer was again
diagnosed, and this time it spread through much of her body. She died on
Jan. 19, 1991. She was 36.<br><br>
The semiconductor industry has reacted with near paranoia to any
suggestion that anyone has gotten sick or died from working with these
chemicals. The manufacturing processes have improved and safety is less
of a problem now than in years past. The last thing the industry wants to
hear about is the possibility that large numbers of workers have already
died and many others are desperately sick from chemicals in the
semiconductor workplace.<br><br>
But there is a compelling need to know whether some of the men and women
who did the grunt work in the creation of a fantastic new industry
sacrificed their health and their lives in the process.<br><br>
The absence of definitive studies left a vacuum that all but assured the
matter would end up in the courts. More than 200 plaintiffs in
California, New York and Minnesota have sued I.B.M. and some of its
chemical suppliers for damages. The fighting between the two sides has
been ferocious.<br><br>
One of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Richard Alexander of the Alexander,
Hawes & Audet law firm in San Jose, said I.B.M. officials never took
steps to warn or properly protect employees even though the officials
"knew that toxic chemicals were causing disease" and an unusual
number of I.B.M. workers "were dying decades before
expected."<br><br>
Representatives of I.B.M. have said there's no evidence anyone has died
from chemical exposure in the workplace and, in background conversations,
have spoken venomously about the motives and tactics of the lawyers and
others who have gone to bat for the plaintiffs.<br>
As the years pass, the heartbreaking cases are piling up. A
disinterested, third-party study — rigorous and comprehensive — could
provide answers to the crucial question of whether some of that
heartbreak is linked to the workplace. <br><br>
<font size=1>Copyright 2003 - New York Times<br>
</font><font color="#800080">+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++<br><br>
</font><b>September 9, 2003<br><br>
<font size=5>Sick and Suspicious<br>
</font>By BOB HERBERT, <font color="#808080">OP-ED COLUMNIST</b></font>,
New York Times<br><br>
<br>
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.<br><br>
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.<br><br>
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.
<br><br>
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.<br><br>
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.<br><br>
"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."<br><br>
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.<br><br>
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.<br><br>
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."<br><br>
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.<br><br>
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.<br><br>
I.B.M. officials also said they will present their own experts who will
refute Dr. Clapp's findings. <br><br>
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.<br><br>
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.<br><br>
<font size=1>Copyright 2003 - New York Times<br>
</font><font color="#800080">+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++<br><br>
</font><b>September 12, 2003<br><br>
<font size=5>Early Warnings<br>
</font>By BOB HERBERT, <font color="#808080">OP-ED COLUMNIST</b></font>,
New York Times<br><br>
Ethylene glycol ethers are a group of organic solvents that proved to be
extremely effective at coating surfaces evenly. They've been used in
paints, nail polish, de-icers and many other products. One of their most
important industrial applications was in the semiconductor industry.
These marvelous chemicals, E.G.E.'s, were the key ingredients in a
solution used in the fabrication of computer chips. <br><br>
But there were some problems. Studies began emerging in the late 1970's
that showed these chemicals wreaking havoc with the reproductive
processes in rodents. They were linked to testicular damage, miscarriages
and birth defects. <br><br>
Even as the warnings grew louder, workers by the thousands were toiling
in the "clean rooms" where extraordinary amounts of toxic
chemicals, including E.G.E.'s, were being put to use in the manufacture
of chips, disks and other electronic components. <br><br>
In the early 1980's, both the National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health and the California<br>
Department of Health Services issued alerts regarding workers exposed to
E.G.E.'s. The fear was that the reproductive problems found in the animal
studies might also be occurring in humans. <br><br>
Some industries moved with dispatch to get E.G.E's out of the workplace.
But the booming semiconductor industry, which powered the spectacular
computer revolution that shaped the last third of the 20th century, was
not one of them. <br><br>
Worker safety would have to wait. <br><br>
The awareness of a potential problem was certainly there. In the spring
of 1982, the Semiconductor Industry Association formally alerted industry
executives to the results from the animal studies. And the following
September the Chemical Manufacturers Association issued an alert.
<br><br>
Years passed, additional documentation piled up, and studies of humans
began to turn up problems similar to those found in animals. <br><br>
By the late 1980's, the industry could no longer hide from the issue. A
study at a Digital Equipment Corporation plant in Hudson, Mass., had
shown a marked increase in miscarriages among semiconductor workers.
Industry leaders immediately complained that the sample was too
small.<br>
Larger studies were commissioned by both the Semiconductor Industry
Association and I.B.M. <br><br>
The hope at the time was that the larger studies would refute the
findings of the smaller one. The opposite occurred. <br><br>
The I.B.M. study was conducted by Johns Hopkins University, and it found
a big link between miscarriages and exposure to E.G.E.'s. "Women
with the highest exposure potential,"<br>
the study said, "had a threefold increased risk of spontaneous
abortion compared to female employees with no potential for direct
exposure to E.G.E." <br><br>
The study said, "We also found evidence that the work on processes
with direct exposure to E.G.E. was associated with an increased risk of
subfertility in female employees and a suggestion of a similar effect in
male employees and their wives." <br><br>
The study by the Semiconductor Industry Association came up with similar
findings. The reproductive havoc was not limited to rodents. <br><br>
I.B.M. stopped using E.G.E.'s in all new processes in 1992 and finally
stopped using them altogether in 1995, a decade and a half after the
warnings began circulating. No one knows how many workers may have been
harmed in that period.<br><br>
A spokesman for I.B.M. said in an e-mail message yesterday that
"finding suitable alternative materials for processes in
semiconducting manufacturing is a complex process." <br><br>
A peculiar thing about the I.B.M. study was that while it focused on
reproductive processes right up until the moment of birth, it did not
study the health outcomes of newborns - to what extent, for example, they
might have suffered from birth defects. <br><br>
In the damage suits that have been brought against I.B.M.by more than 200
of its employees are a number of cases of hideous birth defects that the
plaintiffs allege were caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, including
ethylene glycol ethers. <br><br>
I.B.M. has already thrown in the towel in one case, that of Zachary
Ruffing, a teenager who was born blind and extremely deformed to parents
who had both worked in the company's plant in East Fishkill, N.Y., in the
1980's. <br><br>
While I.B.M. and two of its chemical suppliers agreed to settle the case,
they did not acknowledge that they had done anything wrong. <br><br>
<font size=1>Copyright 2003 - New York Times<br>
</font><font color="#800080">+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++<br><br>
</font><b>September 15, 2003<br>
<font color="#808080">OP-ED COLUMNIST</b></font> <br>
<font size=5><b>I.B.M. Families Ask, 'Why?'<br>
</font>By BOB HERBERT<br><br>
<br>
</b>GOSHEN, N.Y.<br>
The Daley twins, Kate and Kelly, are 24 years old, witty, charming and,
above all, intelligent. You couldn't necessarily tell from just talking
with them that they had been the victims of a catastrophe.<br>
But you can tell by looking at them.<br><br>
Kate and Kelly have been profoundly disfigured by a rare degenerative
skin disease that literally ravaged their bodies from head to foot. They
were born with the disease, epidermolysis bullosa. Its appalling effect
has been comparable to being burned every day of one's life.<br><br>
The twins' bodies are almost completely covered with blisters, sores and
terrible wounds that resist healing. They have undergone more than 30
surgeries each. The disease and relentless surgery have all but destroyed
their hands, which are now little more than stumps. At times they are
unable to open their eyes because of corneal abrasions. When they
testified before Congress three years ago in a plea for more funding for
research on the disease, Kelly said, "I live in a body that has
turned on itself."<br><br>
When I asked during an interview last week how they managed to keep their
spirits up, Kate gave a wry laugh and said, "Antidepressants
help."<br><br>
I interviewed them in the office of one of their lawyers, William
DeProspo, and in the presence of their father, Chris Daley, who was
employed at the I.B.M. plant in East Fishkill, N.Y., from 1973 to 1993.
During most of that time he worked extensively with chemicals, pouring
and mixing them, storing them and disposing of them, he said. Many of the
chemicals were extremely dangerous, and he believes his exposure to them
was the cause of the birth defects that have plagued his
daughters.<br><br>
Many of the damage suits brought against I.B.M. by individuals claiming
to have been harmed by chemicals in the workplace involve birth defects
suffered by the children of employees. The stories are inevitably
heartbreaking. Heather Curtis said she worked with chemicals at I.B.M.
while she was pregnant in 1980. Her daughter, Candacé, was born with
microcephaly, an abnormality that retarded the development of her brain,
and no knees. She was unable to breathe on her own and was not physically
capable of talking. Ms. Curtis has a son who was born before Candacé and
a son born after her, and both are normal.<br><br>
Nancy LaCroix has worked for about 20 years at I.B.M.'s huge plant in
Essex Junction, near Burlington, Vt. She said she worked in areas in
which she was surrounded by chemical fumes ("it really smelled bad
in there") and employees at times had to leave their work stations
because of burning eyes and nostrils.<br><br>
In 1999 her daughter Ally was born with severe bone defects, including
encephalocele, a condition in which a portion of the brain protrudes
through a defect in the skull. Ally's fingers are stunted and
"tapered like a starfish," said Ms. LaCroix, "and she
really doesn't have toes."<br><br>
The child has had eight operations and extensive physical therapy. Now 4
1/2, she complains about headaches "every single day," her
mother said.<br><br>
There is a long list of young people and children who have suffered
tragic birth defects — spina bifida, missing or deformed limbs, a missing
kidney, a missing vagina, blindness — whose parents (in some cases both
parents) worked for I.B.M. and are now suing.<br><br>
Plaintiffs' lawyers contend there are higher than normal rates of birth
defects among I.B.M. employees who have worked with the toxic chemicals
that are common to semiconductor manufacturing.<br><br>
One of the lawyers, Steven Phillips of Manhattan, said: "These cases
are extreme. I've never seen children as badly hurt as
these."<br><br>
I.B.M. strongly denies that there are more instances of birth defects in
the children of its employees than among the population in general. And
representatives have repeatedly said there is no scientific evidence
associating chemicals in its workplaces with birth defects, cancers or
any other illnesses or abnormalities.<br><br>
The legal process will determine whether the plaintiffs in these suits
deserve to be compensated. The larger question is whether the chemicals
used in the semiconductor industry, not just at I.B.M. but throughout the
U.S. and around the world, have harmed large numbers of workers and their
offspring. And if so, what should be done to aid those individuals, and
to prevent the harm from continuing.<font face="Courier New, Courier">
<br><br>
</font><font size=1>copyright New York Times 2003<br><br>
</font><font size=1 color="#800080">+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++<br>
</font><font face="Courier New, Courier" size=2>FAIR USE NOTICE. The
articles in this section of our web site contains copyrighted material
whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition is making this articles available in our
efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability,
environmental and community health, economic democracy, workplace health
and safety issues, corporate accountability, and social justice issues.
We believe that this constitutes a `fair use' of the copyrighted material
as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to
use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond
`fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright
owner.</font><font face="Courier New, Courier"> <br>
</font></html>

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--=====================_22537671==.REL--
	
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