Canada’s Largest Show Features Dr. Paul Blanc

Canada’s most-listened to radio show The Current featured a fascinating interview with Paul D. Blanc, M.D. today. Hosted by Anna Maria Tremonti, one of Canada’s most trusted journalists, The Current airs weekday mornings across their country over the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC), and is heard across the U.S. on SiriusXM.

Here’s an excerpt from their summary:

For well over a century, viscose rayon has been used to make clothes, tires, cellophane and everyday kitchen sponges.

It was hailed as a wondrous new product when first introduced — but what most people didn’t know is how deadly manufacturing rayon was for the factory workers.

It’s an industrial hazard whose egregious history ranks up there with asbestos, lead and mercury, according to author Paul Blanc.

In his new book Fake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon (published by Yale University Press), Blanc, who is also a University of California professor of medicine, looks at how the manufacturing of viscose rayon served as a death sentence for many industry workers.

“There was a famous rubber factory where they put bars on the second story windows because so many workers had a tendency to jump out and kill themselves,” he tells The Current’s guest host Laura Lynch.

The key ingredient in the making of viscose is a molecule called carbon disulfide — a molecule so insidiously toxic that it devastated the minds and bodies of factory workers for more than a century.

Blanc says that occupational health and multinational corporations were aware of the dangers, but motivated by huge profits, failed to act.

“It was pretty easy to recognize the toxic effects early on because it makes workers insane. They found that about 30 per cent of the workers that they investigated showed signs of serious poisoning.”

But when it comes to the health impact on consumers, Blanc says there is none.

“Which is why … it’s gone on as long. Because when consumers aren’t affected, there’s not very much impetus for outrage if it’s just the poor people making it that suffer.”

Blanc says the fabric continues to this day to be “greenwashed” as an eco-friendly product.

“They omit entirely the fact that you can’t make the product without this toxic chemical. So it’s really a ‘greenwashing’ of the most diabolical sort.”

Listen to the full conversation HERE.

This interview is part of our comprehensive publicity campaign for Fake Silk. Are you looking for a publicist, a publicity firm for nonprofits, a PR firm for small business, or an independent book publicist? Carney & Associates specializes in science pr and sustainability topics. Please contact Kathlene Carney for a free consultation to find out how our publicity services can contribute to your success.

 

The Atlantic Features “Fake Silk”

In The Atlantic, James Hamblin recently wrote a fascinating feature about FAKE SILK: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon by Paul David Blanc, M.D.

Here’s an excerpt from “The Buried Story of Male Hysteria: When men actually began to be diagnosed as ‘hysterics,’ doctors searched for a cause. They found a chemical that may be on the rise again today.”

When a raving 27-year-old man was committed to Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane in April of 1887, no one thought much of it.

But 12 days later, another man arrived at the door in much the same incoherent condition. When the men regained awareness and could be interrogated, it turned out that they worked in the same nearby rubber factory.

That summer, a third man was brought to the hospital, where he was described as “in a condition of great mental excitement, disturbing the neighborhood by loud noises and violent praying.” He, too, turned out to be a co-worker.

The chief of the Nervous Department at New York’s College of Physicians and Surgeons at the time was Frederick Peterson. He knew these three cases couldn’t be a coincidence, so he set out interrogating the workers on the nature of their jobs. As he suspected, the men had all inhaled a chemical in the factory’s air: carbon disulfide.

Peterson had heard of carbon-disulfide insanity in Europe, so he alerted his colleagues in The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal (now known as The New England Journal of Medicine) that the problem had come to America. In England, the new term “gassed” had arisen, defined in the Liverpool Daily Post as “the term used in the India rubber business, and it meant dazed.” The British physician Thomas Oliver had recalled watching as people working in rubber factories left after their shifts and “simply staggered home,” apart from themselves. The effect could be deadly. “Some of them have become the victims of acute insanity,” Oliver wrote, “and in their frenzy have precipitated themselves from the top rooms of the factory to the ground.”

This article is part of our comprehensive publicity campaign for Fake Silk. Are you looking for a publicist, a publicity firm for nonprofits, a PR firm for small business, or an independent book publicist? Carney & Associates specializes in science pr and sustainability topics. Please contact Kathlene Carney for a free consultation to find out how our publicity services can contribute to your success.

Greenwashed products exposed on Groks Science Radio Show

The current “greenwashing” of viscose products as being eco-friendly (rayon fabrics, sponges, cellophane products) is exposed in FAKE SILK: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon by Paul D. Blanc, M.D. (Yale University Press).

A highly toxic chemical, carbon disulfide, has been the life blood of this industry from the start. It also has meant a death sentence for many of its workers. For a more than a century, making viscose has been linked to severe illness, including mental derangement, heart attack, and stroke.

Dr. Blanc discusses the history of the industry and its current rebirth in greenwashed eco-friendly products on the Groks Science Show. He emphasizes the importance of skepticism about “green” products on the market, not just in terms of potential hazards for consumers, but also up the chain in its manufacturing, and where it goes after the consumer is finished with it.

This interview is part of our comprehensive publicity campaign for Fake Silk. Are you looking for a publicist, a publicity firm for nonprofits, a PR firm for small business, or an independent book publicist? Please contact Kathlene Carney for a free consultation to find out how our publicity services can contribute to your success.