Azo dyes and other chemicals used for various purposes in the textile industries have long been linked to excesses in cancer (although liver cancer is not predominate). There is a study from IARC (http://www..inchem.org/documents/iarc/vol48/48-13.html) from 1990 that provides a bit of information. My suspicion is that it was more than just lab safety that may have had an effect on your relative. I would guess (but do not know) that the factory workers were at greater risk than the lab workers.
I am sure some others can share their understanding.
S.Z. Mansdorf, PhD, CIH, CSP, QEP
Consultant in EHS and Sustainability
7184 Via Palomar
Boca Raton, FL 33433
With the wisdom of this listserve, I bet a few of you may provide some information on this topic.
A family member is writing a history of a relative who was a Harvard-educated dye chemist at a New England textile firm from 1906 until about 1930. At that time his health began to deteriorate and he “retired” from chemistry. He died in 1936 of liver cancer at 51 years of age.
Both she and I know it is highly speculative to associate his work and poor health, but she wonders what laboratory safety precautions might have been in common industrial use during that time. Do you know?
When I worked at the University of Wisconsin, a retired chemistry professor there told me that his first “gas mask” was purchased from army surplus prior to WW II. In my career, I’ve helped remodel labs with functional fume hoods dating from the 1920s. Were masks, gloves, hoods, etc. in common use in industrial labs between 1906 and 1930?
Perhaps there is a book that traces this safety history. If so, I’d appreciate hearing about it
Peter A. Reinhardt
Director, Office of Environmental Health & Safety
135 College St., Suite 100
New Haven, CT 06510-2411
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