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Vinyl Chloride

Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 see the vinyl pollutors in your state

"We feel quite confident, however, that 500 ppm (vinyl chloride) is going to produce rather appreciable injury when inhaled 7 hours a day, five days a week for an extended period."
- Dow scientist writing to the Director of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, B. F. Goodrich Company, May 1959 (view entire document)

"With little persuasion, he changed the VDC reports first sentence from "Experiments on another chemical, vinyldene chloride monomer, show that it is strongly carcinogenic...' to 'Preliminary experiments on another chemical vinyldene chloride monomer, indicate that it may have carcinogenic activity in experiments similar to those described above..."
- Chemical Manufacturers Association, Trip Report, October 1974 (view entire document)

"It was the consensus of those present that ... it would be appropriate to release such information [about the research project] to the press. There will be no reference to the European studies and the nature of the project is to be referred to as a chronic inhalation study without reference to the question of carcinogenesis."
- Chemical Manufacturers Association, Vinyl Research Coordinators, January 1973 (view entire document)

The story of vinyl chloride is a tale of corporate deception in which chemical industry executives kept workers and government health officials in the dark about the debilitating and sometimes fatal consequences of working with the chemical. As evidence emerged over a 20 year period that vinyl chloride caused signature injuries such as disintegration of the bones in the fingers and then fatal liver cancer, and perhaps other cancers, the chemical industry engaged in an increasingly complex and coordinated plot to keep anyone from knowing the chemical's true hazards. There were virtually no limits to the deception.

Over a 15-year period: workers were exposed to levels of vinyl chloride that were known to cause injury and not told; scientists were pressured to rewrite publications; manufacturers and beauticians were kept in the dark about vinyl chloride in hair spray and the potential devastating risks; information was withheld from government health officials; health exams were given under false pretense to keep workers in the dark about what was happening to them; studies were terminated to avoid producing damaging evidence; and pacts of silence were agreed to and executed.

Today, thirty years after the industry first learned that vinyl chloride caused cancer, workers are still dying, and many people -including an untold number of beauty shop workers in the 1960s and 1970s- remain unaware that they were heavily exposed for years to a highly hazardous, potentially deadly substance. (read a list of vinyl chloride emissions in your state)

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last updated: march.27.2009

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