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Sterility causing chemical also linked with cancer

The Washington Post reported today that Dow and Shell were aware more than 20 years ago that DBCP caused sterility in animals.

23 August 1977

MIDLAND, Mich. (AP) – A pest-controlling chemical suspected of causing sterility in men and cancer in animals is “too hot to sit on” and a national alert on the hazards of the chemical may be issued soon, a federal official says.

Federal officials said after the disclosure Monday of a National Cancer Institute study of DBCP—dibromochloropropane —that they will await further test before issuing an alert.

Animals injected with DBCP in the study got cancer, said Dr. Channing Meyer, chief of the medical section for hazard evaluation at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The cancer study “in and of itself should raise suspicion as to whether it is a human carcinogen (cancer producer),” Meyer said.

Meyer said NIOSH “is definitely leaning towards” issuing a national alert on DBCP if results of further tests on chemical workers substantiate earlier findings of sterility.

Boris Oshcroff, principle environmental officer of public health for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, said Monday that DBCP is “too hot to sit on,” and confirmed in Washington that the chemical probably would be the subject of a national bulletin.

He declined to discuss the recent NCI study, but said a 1973 study found stomach cancer in rats and mice given high doses of DBCP, which is used to control pests in soil.

Meyer said more data should be available by the end of the week, when Dow, Shell Oil Co. and Occidental Chemical Corp. —which also market DBCP— report further results of sterility tests they are conducting.

Etcyl Blair, Dow’s director of environmental health and research, and Dr. H. Charles Scharnweber, corporate medical director, were unavailable for comment on the possible link to cancer.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported today that Dow and Shell were aware more than 20 years ago that DBCP caused sterility in animals.

The Post said that tests conducted in the 1950s by Dow and Shell, the two biggest producers of DBCP, and published in 1961 in the Journal of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, showed that the chemical caused several medical problems in animals, including the shrinking of testicles and sterility.

The Post said that Shell began animal laboratory tests of DBCP at the University of California’s San Francisco Medical Center In 1952, and the center issued findings to the company in an internal paper in 1954.

The newspaper said Dow distributes health safety data to buyers of all chemicals it sells, but data sheets, which the Post said it obtained, “make no mention of any danger of sterility, although they do warn that over-exposure can result in injury to the lungs, liver and kidneys.”

Earlier this month, evidence of sterility turned up among workers at a Dow Chemical Co. plant in Magnolia, Ark., who had worked with the chemical.

At the Occidental plant in Lathrop, Calif., a small town in the San Joaquin Valley section were found to be either totally sterile or had almost non-existent sperm counts.

Associated Press syndicated article. This example publish in Corsicana Daily Sun Tuesday Aug 23, 1977 Corsicana Texas page 6B

Sterility causing chemical also linked with cancer: 23 August 1977

Shell workers show low levels of sperm: 30 August 1977

Dow links chemical to low fertility: 21 October 1977

Pesticide exposure limitations sought: 02 November 1977


Banana workers’ pesticide award invalid, Dow says: 28 May 2003

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