UPTON, N.Y. — As a technician at Brookhaven National Laboratory, one of the nation’s most prestigious science labs, Joseph Marino’s job in the late 1990s and early 2000s was to clean and maintain the supercomputers that have helped researchers unlock some of the world’s biggest scientific and medical mysteries. He polished copper connectors, he said, until “they reminded you of gold.”
One of the cleaning fluids he used while wiping the machines by hand over the years was trichloroethylene, or TCE, a toxic degreaser that the Trump administration has targeted as part of its broad effort to weaken regulations on chemicals. TCE is still widely used by dry cleaners as a stain remover and by factories as a degreaser.
Mr. Marino, who later lost a kidney to cancer, is now suing the operators of the Department of Energy lab for $25 million over exposure to TCE, alleging that they negligently supplied the cleaner to him and many other workers there without warnings or protections. He is also suing Dow Chemical and Zep, alleging that they made and sold the chemical without adequate safety warnings.Here's a hair-raising tidbit (emphasis mine):
...At a recent meeting of a group of Brookhaven retirees, at a classic Long Island diner a 20-minute drive from the lab, the conversation was punctuated with news of former colleagues who were battling disease or who had died.
Around the table was Frank Devito, 84, in a faded Yankees cap, who worked at the lab for three decades, does dialysis three times a week for renal failure and keeps the group’s tally of deceased colleagues — 38 at the latest count. There was also Fred Squires, 67, who remembers scrubbing parts in a tray full of TCE, with rubber gloves and no mask, and who has kidney cancer.The good ol' days, when PPE was scarce.*
*for the irony-impaired, this is sarcasm