Occupational Health News Roundup

Los Angeles jurors awarded $3.2 million in damages to six Nicaraguan workers who say they were left sterile after being exposed to the pesticide DBCP on Dole Foods’ banana plantations. DBCP has been banned in most of the world; California banned it in 1977, after DBCP was found to cause sterility in men working at an Occidental Petroleum plant in that state.

The Los Angeles Times’ John Spano explains some of the broader implications of this case:

The case was widely seen as a test of how the U.S. legal system responds to injuries inflicted through globalization. Because the harm occurred in Central America, the defendants had argued for years that the trials should take place there, rather than in the United States. Both sides considered the case a bellwether that would determine what sorts of claims would be pursued in the future.


ABC News: The Department of Veterans Affairs will open a facility to provide counseling to female veterans who have been the victims of sexual abuse or assault. Since 2002, 29 percent of female military personnel surveyed upon discharge reported that they’d been the recipients of uninvited sexual attention or the victims of assault (hat tip to RH Reality Check).

Associated Press: Out of concern about hazardous formaldehyde fumes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is barring employees from entering thousands of stored trailers; meanwhile, 48,000 FEMA trailers are still used by hurricane victims.

Occupational Hazards: NIOSH is requesting public input on a national survey to assess truck drivers’ health and safety.

Bloomberg: Peruvian miners suspended a strike after Congress made progress on legislation to increase miners’ share of profits, shorten miners’ work days from 12 to 8 hours, and put 85,000 subcontracted workers on company payrolls.

Columbia News Service: Community groups and health advocates are working to reduce toxic exposures in nail salons.


  1. #1 Mark
    November 14, 2007

    For a historical look at the DBCP issue, see this industry comment from 1977 on GoogleVideo at:


    The clip is from the 1978 film, “Song of the Canary,” from New Day Films (http://www.newday.com/films/Song_of_the_Canary.html ). In 1977, 60 workers at a chemical production plant in California making the pesticide DBCP (1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane), were found to be sterile.

  2. #2 Marla
    March 20, 2008

    Banned in 1977, with a short life span, I am wondering how the level of DBCP in Fresno, CA continues to escalate.
    I believe old supplies are being used behind the felony altering of sewer and water lines throughout town. Needs to be investigated.