Environmental Working Group
Chemical Industry Archives
home | what's new | the inside story | fact and fiction | about | search options | 

The Inside Story

»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
   




Cancer In A Can: Small market, big liability

Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

According to minutes of a January 30, 1973 meeting, the Manufacturing Chemists Association's vinyl chloride research team, with representatives from Dow, PPG, B.F. Goodrich, Ethyl Corporation, Union Carbide, and other major companies, met to discuss what position the MCA should convey to its member companies regarding the continued use of vinyl chloride as an aerosol propellant. Their primary concern was to avoid "undue and premature attention on the industrial hygiene aspects of the problem," and they dealt with it by taking no position. (view entire document)

Not only was the MCA avoiding public discussion of VCM use in aerosols, they were also hiding the evidence that VCM causes cancer. At that same meeting in January 1973, they discussed a proposed industry sponsored VCM research project to be carried out by Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories: "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." (view entire document)

In the months following the meeting, internal memos from various chemical companies in attendance provide additional details of the discussion. Again and again, the chemical makers returned to a comparison of liability vs. profitability. They weighed the clear risks of cancer to tens of thousands of women against their bottom line, and the bottom line won.

Vinyl chloride makers had a problem. Since 1958 they had marketed VCM as a safe alternative to CFCs. How could they get out of the VCM business without raising suspicion about its safety? In an internal Allied Chemical Company memo, based upon a conversation with a Dow employee and the chair of the Vinyl Chloride Research Coordinators committee states that Dow "would like to get out of the sale of VCM as aerosol propellant but doesn't know quite how to do it. Thinking behind this was not explored but suspect that fear is of spot-lighting the health concern." (view entire document)

« prev page | next page »



last updated: march.27.2009

Home  |  What's New  |  The Inside Story  |  Fact and Fiction  |  About  |  Search  |  Contact  |  Donate  |  Site Index

The Chemical Industry Archives is a project of the Environmental Working Group.
Many documents in the archives require Adobe Acrobat reader (free download).