Forestry worker worries over chemical exposure
People exposed to chemical 2,4,5-T still waiting for report on Agent Orange
Posted: Dec 3, 2012 8:53 AM ET
Last Updated: Dec 3, 2012 9:01 AM ET
A northern Ontario mans says it's time for answers about his exposure to a dangerous herbicide.
It's been almost two years since the province formed a panel to investigate the use of 2,4,5-T — a chemical ingredient in the infamous herbicide Agent Orange. The herbicide was used extensively in Ontario to clear brush in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
“Who knows how much longer it's going to be,” said Ken Graham, who worked for the Ministry of Transportation and sprayed the chemical to control brush in Cochrane District.
He wants to know why, two years after it came to light that he worked with 2,4,5-T, he still doesn't know if he should be worried.
“Everybody should have been wearing full coveralls and respirators and the works,” Graham said.
“We never wore any of that stuff. Our hands were bare.”
Thousands of records
The province appointed a panel back in the spring of 2011 to determine when and where the chemical was used by government departments and agencies.
University of Guelph scientist and panel chair Len Ritter said there are no answers yet because there are so many records through which to sift.
“The thought that we had coming into it was that, because this went back so long ago, there probably wouldn't be very many records remaining,” he said. “We were wrong.”
He noted the process of submitting records only came to an end this past September — and 4,500 records were submitted.
“So it was a pretty daunting task to go through all of that and determine what was of value to us and what could help us come to an understanding of those uses and what might have been any consequences resulting from those uses.”
The panel is not investigating individual cases, but its conclusions could lead to compensation for people who were exposed.
Ken Graham said he's at least hoping for an apology or “even a letter or some kind of a call from the government.”
No timeline has been given on when the panel’s report will be released to the public.
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