THE POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS EFFECTS OF OCCUPATIONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL EXPOSURE TO CHEMICALS IS THE SUBJECT OF INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE CONFERENCE THIS WEEK

An international scientific conference, Occupational and Environmental Exposures of Skin to Chemicals-2005, is taking place this week in Stockholm, Sweden. More than 200 participants from around the world will discuss skin exposure to toxic, irritant, and allergenic chemicals in the workplace and the non-occupational environment. The group will also discuss ways to minimize exposure and prevent hazardous effects.

The development of new products and chemicals also presents the problem of determining what effect exposure to them may have on humans. This can be quite problematic since some toxic substances take a very long time to cause detectable injuries. For example, in the case of asbestos it takes between 20 and 50 years for mesothelioma to develop. Thus, merely because a new product does not cause immediate harm there is no reason to celebrate. Many "miracle" products, chemicals, and drugs have proven to be highly toxic only after the public has been exposed to what they believed was a safe substance for a considerable length of time.

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