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    Post: Chemical COPD

    Posted by Ken on 1/04/08

    I worked for a chemical company for 32 years. I have COPD,
    totaly disabled, and on oxygen. I am drawing SS
    disability, and looks like I will soon be getting
    workman's comp. benefits. I worked with many types of
    chemicals and compounds. To name a few were:
    toluenediisocynate, toluene,
    bestos,fumed silica,diatoanatious earth,silicon,and many
    other powders, compounds, and liquids. I was told by my
    doctors that most of the lung damage was probably in the
    first few years of employment. Back in the early 70's
    there wasn't much protection provided. We used to clean
    floors with 5 gallon buckets of toluene, trichloroethane
    or what ever was handy at the time. No protective
    equipment was used. If there was a large spill of liquid (
    50 gal. up to 2000 Gal ) we would get shovels , and scoop
    up the liquid into drums. We were provided cotton gloves.
    In order to save money when the gloves got dirty with
    adhesive, etc. , the gloves were put in a 5 gallon bucket
    of toluene or trichloroethane to clean and reuse! We used
    to make our own hand cleaner. The cleaner was mainly
    thickened trichloroethane. I think it is used in bug
    killers! We had to share some safety equipment like a
    solvent mask, and brass tools. I think in those days the
    supervisor got a bonus at the end of the year if supplies
    were kept under a certain amount. I worked on a coater for
    about 8 years before I became totaly disabled. The coater
    is a 100 yard oven where adhesives are measured onto paper
    or plastic backing. This goes thru the oven at certain
    speeds and temp. The oven zones were set at any where from
    50 to 350 degrees. If we would see a defect while running
    a product, it was an accepted pratice to go into the oven
    to find the cause of the defect while running. You had to
    hold your breath as long as you could because of the oven
    heat and concentrated solvent fumes. This has been going
    on and is still going on for over 35 years. We were
    allowed to have beards because we were told we didn't need
    solvent masks. You couldn't get a good seal with a beard.
    Forgive my ranting I, just wanted to get a little of this
    off my chest. I guess because of workman's comp. I can't
    sue my employer. But, can I sue the chemical suppliers as
    a whole, even if I can't prove what chemicals actually
    caused my COPD?

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