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Re: [BKARTS] MSDS nonsense

	Jack Thompson's posts was one of the most interesting in this
discussion.  It illustrates how deficient humans are in their
apprehension of risk.  Several years ago, workers at the Rohm and Haas
chemical plant in Philadelphia began to develop a virulent form of lung
cancer called oat cell cancer.  It turned out that this was due to their
exposure to an acrid gas with a suffocating odor, dichloromethyl ether. 
(This is simply the anesthetic ether with each ethyl group replaced by a
methyl, and each methyl group chlorinated.)  The workers had been
furnished with protective gear, including respirators, but after several
week of working around the substance, they had dispensed with their
masks and would joke with each other, coughing,  while the agent would
boil up from large reactors.  People can understand at one level the
risk of working with harmful substances, but after a while the perceived
risk dwindles.  Enduring the assault of the harmful agent is considered
a macho thing to do.   This is one of my gripes about the MSDS:  its
suffocating technical detail doesn't elucidate risks;  it obscures them.
 The other references Jack provides are much better.
	I have a friend who works for a large Ford dealership.  The dealer does
collision repair and general painting of autos.  When I visited him in
his office, I noticed that his office and all other offices in the
building reeked of amyl acetate and other esters present in car paint. 
He and his coworkers suffered this exposure day after day, year after
year.  These are very reactive chemical compounds.  I doubt whether he
and his coworkers even smelled them any longer.
        Another example:  if you would explain to people that exposure
to the sun would result in a melanoma rate of 1 person in 10, the
beaches in the summer would be bare.  However, binge drinking of ethyl
alcohol is probably indulged in by 45% of college students, and of those
perhaps 1 in 5 will become alcoholic later in life.
        Go figure. I'm sure psychologists have written a large number of
research papers on this topic.  Perhaps it's because scientists such as
myself don't explain the concept of risk to people in a way that they
can understand it.
        Bookbinders work with solvents and, in my view, these are the
most dangerous of the substances we use.  It is an absolute necessity to
maintain robust ventilation in the workplace.
        It's interesting that painters (except for the self-destructing
ones) live forever (Matisse, Picasso) while, as Jack points out,
conservators have short life spans.  My suggestion is that painters have
less exposure to solvents than conservators.  Although paints can be
very toxic (cadmium compounds), the absorption is minimal compared to
that of solvent inhalation. 

"Jack C. Thompson" wrote:
> Whenever I introduced a new chemical treatment to my employees
> I flagged the relevant page of Lange's _Handbook of Poisoning_
> and made them read it.  If, after reading the entry, they decided
> against using that chemical, that was alright with me.
> I learned early on that some people are sensitive to chemicals, and
> that what did not affect me, physically, could affect other people.
> In addition to Lange, my reference collection contains over 2 dozen
> toxicological books, among the most useful of which are:
> _The Merck Index_
> _Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials_ by N. Irving Sax
> _Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products_
> _Artist Beware_ by Michael McCann
> _Health Hazards Manual for Artists_ by Michael McCann
> _Bacterial and Mycotic Infections of Man_, Rene J. Dubos, ed.
> A 16 disk set which includes all of the MSDS files accessed by
> first responders to a disaster scene.  A lot of MSDS files.
> When I began the study of conservation, in the early '70s, one of
> the first things I did was read all of the back issues of the AIC
> (American Institute of Conservation) newsletter.
> An interesting thing became clear as I read obituaries.  Most of
> the painting conservators were dying in their 50's-60's; while
> most of the others were dying in their 80's-90's.
> Painting conservators handle more chemicals in the course of a
> treatment than most of the rest of us, and they were generally
> more casual about safety precautions than most of us are today.
> Foncannon is right; too much is made of some things in use in
> daily life.
> Butter used to be bad; now it is good.  Coffee used to be bad;
> today's news said it is good; the more the better!  Up to a point,
> of course.  Like ethanol.  You know - beer, wine, whiskey.
> Read, learn, think.
> Jack
> Thompson Conservation Lab.
> 7549 N. Fenwick
> Portland, Oregon  97217
> 503/735-3942 (phone)
> 503/289-8723 (fax)
> http://www.teleport.com/~tcl
> "The lyfe so short; the craft so long to lerne."
> Chaucer  _Parlement of Foules_ 1386
>              ***********************************************
> Edelpappband / "Millimeter" Binding Bind-O-Rama, Entry Deadline - October 1, 2005
>              For all your subscription questions, go to the
>                       Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
>           See <http://www.philobiblon.com> for full information
>              ***********************************************


J. J. Foncannon
Philadelphia, PA  19139

	The Belgian surrealist painter Renee Magritte entered a cheese store in
Brussels to purchase a wheel of Swiss cheese.  The owner pulled a wheel
from the front window, but Magritte said he preferred the one on the
back counter.
	?But they are identical,? the owner protested.
	?No,? Magritte insisted.  ?This one?s been stared at.?

Edelpappband / "Millimeter" Binding Bind-O-Rama, Entry Deadline - October 1, 2005
             For all your subscription questions, go to the
                      Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
          See <http://www.philobiblon.com> for full information

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