Funny how people either don't want to hear about bad news, or want to hear nothing but bad news. The latest MOCA issue is my example. Oh, OK, there really is no MOCA issue anymore. But maybe that's the point.
To clarify what I'm talking about, here's a littlebackground on 4,4'methylene bis (2-chloroaniline), better known as MOCA, the curative used in polyurethane processing.
In 1973, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an emergency standard restricting the handling of MOCA. No substitute existed for the curative at the time, and the cost of compliance forced at least 40 urethane processors to shut down, their future in doubt.
The issue galvanized a small, 2-year-old organization of cast urethane processors and suppliers, the Polyurethane Manufacturers Association. The group launched a long, difficult campaign against what it considered an unwarranted and debilitating standard.
The battle went on for years and years, and had as many twists and turns as an Agatha Christie mystery. The PMA took on OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the American Council of Governmental Industrial Hygienists over MOCA.
Despite the costs, time and effort, the PMA members never surrendered and, ultimately, won and saved their industry. And the group also successfully defended the use of the reactants toluene diisocyanate and MDI.
In the course of the MOCA struggle the urethane industry has conducted several studies of the cancer risk from MOCA exposure. Two recent investigations have been completed, covering more than 700 workers exposed to MOCA, and have been submitted to three scientific journals.
And rejected three times.
``It's almost impossible to get a negative study (i.e. one that shows little or no incidence of disease) published,'' said Bud Sather, an attorney who has worked for decades with the PMA on such subjects.
Too bad. The PMA is submitting the reports to another science magazine. Maybe this time the editors will recognize that good news might be interesting, too.
Noga is editor of Rubber & Plastics News.