A worker from the Pennsylvania chemical company Rohm and Haas Co. has filed a class-action lawsuit, arguing that he and thousands of fellow employees are at risk for cancerous brain tumors as a result of exposure to numerous chemicals used in the production of household and industrial products.
Although the company conducted its own study in 2004 and claims to have found no significant links among a “cluster” of 15 sick workers at its research campus in Spring House.
All of those workers have died from brain tumors except one.
A total of five workers were diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer.
One of the victims died at 50 in 2003. Another obtained treatment at a Texas Cancer center that is not covered under his insurance.
Individual negligence claims are being pursued on behalf of these two long-time scientists who worked at Rohm and Haas.
Both men worked on agricultural products and pesticides, while according to lawyer Aaron Freiwald, the other three glioblastoma victims worked near them at the Spring House campus.
Freiwald says "there is evidence enough to establish a workplace link to these cancers."
Nearly 6,000 chemists, technicians and others have worked at the campus since it opened in 1963, including about 1,000 people who work there now.
The workers are exposed to chemicals used in household and industrial products, from shampoos to paints to plastic dashboards. Since the employment of the victims, the company has sold its agricultural division.
The lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania state court seeks periodic M.R.I.s and neurological testing for the workers. The additional negligence law suits claim that Rohm and Haas failed to warn employees about potential toxins and carcinogens or train them properly in handling the hazardous materials.
Rohm and Haas is currently reviewing the death certificates of former employees. According to spokesman Syd Havely the study should be completed in 2006.
This is not the first incident of this kind. In the 1990s seven employees at a BP Amoco laboratory outside Chicago developed glioblastomas in a 14-year period. While the petroleum giant did not concede any connection between its operations and the illnesses, it settled lawsuits on behalf of all of the victims.