Re: cancer in the histology lab (was 10% formaldehyde)

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From:amos brooks <>
To:James Hall <>
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    A possible dilemma here ... Those techs that have had health problems and did
attribute them to the chemicals they work with have probably left the field. So a
questionnaire of this nature is loaded simply because it is being asked of those
who remain in the field and are healthy enough to answer the questions.
Amos Brooks

James Hall wrote:

> Bob,
> Why don't you devise a questionnaire for us oldies to answer, say 50 years
> and over with questions such as:
> Which of the following chemicals have you been exposed to during your
> working career?
> Do you know of any fellow technicians who have contracted Ca attributed to
> chemical exposure + details?
> Cigarette smoking could also come into it.
> What is your current state of health and if not 100%, would you attribute
> this to chemical exposure?
> I have two years to go now to 65 and retirement and have worked in
> laboratories since I was 16 and am still hail and hearty.  Some of the
> chemicals I have worked with are a definite no no nowadays, maybe I am just
> lucky or its all in the genes.  I may be wrong but I imagine the results of
> such a survey would be positive and may go some way to reassure younger
> colleagues that there is not as much danger as one would imagine provided
> good laboratory working practices are in place.
> Jim.
> @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
> At 09:08 19/02/00 -0500, wrote:
> >Donna Barlow at Duke University in North Carolina writes:
> >
> >>>We have technicians working in our surgical pathology lab that have had or
> >are dealing with cancer. The cancers these people have dealt with  and are
> >dealing with are breast cancer, colon, kidney, uterine, ovarian, and
> >abdominal cancer.<<
> >
> >None of these cancers (with the possible exception of kidney) is thought to
> >be related to exposure to environmental carcinogens. If people were getting
> >cancers related to inhaled carcinogens, you'd expect cancers of the head and
> >neck, lungs, and urinary bladder. To imply that these unfortunate people are
> >developing cancer because they're exposed to laboratory chemicals raises
> >needless anxiety among people who are exposed to them.
> >
> >Unfortunately, the facts are fewer than they should be. The AMA tracks
> causes
> >of death of American physicians quite carefully. The causes of death of
> >American pathologists don't differ from those of other physicians (whereas
> >radiologists, at least the older generation, differ profoundly). It seems to
> >me that that fact goes a long way to exonerate formaldehyde as a major human
> >carcinogen, since pathologists probably get more formaldehyde exposure than
> >anybody else in the average lab (well, at least  I do!)
> >
> >If there's a suspect carcinogen in the histology lab it's xylene (along with
> >the closely related benzene and toluene). Here histotechnologists get more
> >exposure than pathologists. Unfortunately, the causes of death of
> >histotechnologists are not well documented. I think it would be a good idea
> >for NSH to start collecting the death certificates of its members past and
> >present, but only a minority of histotechs belong to NSH, and many people
> get
> >several years of exposure, leave the field forever, and would thus be lost
> to
> >such follow-up. (AMA tracks all American physicians, members or not.)
> >
> >Bob Richmond
> >Samurai Pathologist
> >Knoxville TN
> >
> >
> >
> Jim Hall,
> MDA Equipment Evaluator,
> Department of Histopathology,
> University College London Hospitals,
> Rockefeller Building,
> University Street,
> London, WC1E 6JJ.
> Tel.No. 0171 209 6042
> Fax 0171 387 3674

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