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Former IBM Employee Reacts to NIOSH IBM Study

The findings from a federal study which examined over 34,000 workers who worked at IBM's Endicott plant from 1969 to 2001 were released on Monday.
 
The study found the total number of deaths from all causes and all cancers combined were lower among the workers than what would be expected.

However, deaths from some types of cancer were more frequent than what would be expected. Several types of cancers were relatively more common in workers who had more potential exposure to specific chemicals or worked longer in certain production buildings.

This, according to a doctor who conducted another study of IBM Endicott workers which pre-dated the federal one, is consistent with his findings.

"It replicated one major finding which was lymphoma. We found that in an earlier look and sure enough the NIOSH study showed it as well. Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma was elevated in the workers in this plant in Endicott," said Dr. Richard Clapp, Professor Emeritus at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Clapp conducted his study for plaintiffs who were suing IMB a decade ago.  He recommends that former IBM Endicott workers covered by the study who don't have cancer inform their health care provider of the study in the future.

Former nurse at IBM Wanda Hudak and advocate for the study said she's not surprised by the findings, but says there are things that couldn't studied because the data wasn't there, and it could be time to dig a little deeper.

"No one wants to be the one to say the industrial solvents are the reason that we had these illnesses.  One of the my board members said just because we got some positive significant levels and not everybody at IBM died, doesn't mean we don't have a problem," said Hudak.

Hudak is a member of a stakeholders group who advocated for this study for years.  She hopes this study will help similar companies to IBM instill safer regulations.



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