To the Editor:
During the course of the past year, I have developed a clear conception of the importance of cancer prevention education for industrial workers who have received occupational exposures to known and suspected human carcinogens.
The ALCOA employees have received occupational exposures to chemical carcinogens, including: PCBs, asbestos and coal tar. People who have received such exposures are placed at increased risk of developing cancer because of these exposures.
Reducing the ongoing exposure of this group of people to carcinogens will minimize the quantity of clinically diagnosable cancer cases that develop among this population.
Exposures in the workplace need to be minimized and exposures outside the workplace need to be minimized. The employees should be educated in chemical carcinogen exposure avoidance strategies
Exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) can be avoided by restricting consumption of animal fat. Exposure to carcinogens present in exhaust can be avoided by choosing not to spend any longer than absolutely necessary in concentrated exhaust clouds.
Consuming organic fruits and vegetables results in avoidance of exposure to certain pesticides, which have the potential for being carcinogenic. Thus, there is a considerable amount of information based in the scientific literature that can be used to decrease the quantity of cancer that will occur in the lives of industrial workers, including those who work at the ALCOA facilities in St. Lawrence County.
In having come to the conclusions set forth above, I decided that it was just and honorable to seek to develop an educational outreach among the ALCOA employees. I called ALCOA Inc. headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and left a detailed message requesting to have a substantive dialogue on the matter of cancer prevention education for employees.
I received a letter from Jeffrey Lettrich, senior counsel to ALCOA, Inc., in which it was stated that my offer was declined. I called and left several detailed messages for the industrial hygienist at the ALCOA West facility located at Massena, New York. In these messages, I focused on the need to minimize the ongoing exposure of employees to coal tar pitch.
Coal tar pitch is carcinogenic in humans. This chemical substance is used by ALCOA employees to manufacture the carbon anodes utilized in reduction of aluminum. None of my calls to the hygienist were returned. Seeking to talk with ALCOA employees about the cancer preventive benefit of exposure avoidance education, I called the Main Entrance Gate and explained this subject to the person answering the phone.
On January 10, 2011, I received a letter from ALCOA attorney Lettrich, in which Mr. Lettrich stated that my telephone calls were looked upon as harassment by ALCOA. He further stated that the corporation had contacted local law enforcement about the problem.
I contacted Captain Chauvin of the New York State Police and explained the purpose and content of my telephone calls to ALCOA.
I want the law enforcement community to understand why I have taken actions that would lead ALCOA to make a harassment complaint.
Donald L. Hassig, Director
Cancer Action NY