SNFTAAS arose from the Marj Gordon Memorial Seminar,
Chemical Sensitivity at Work in Medicine, Palmerston North, NZ, 15 March,
1997. Marjorie Gordon was the
first person to have her claim for x-ray chemical sensitivity accepted for
workers’ compensation by ACC,
NZ, in 1983. Her claim
states: “Acute sensitivity to toxic effects of radiographic chemicals in
the darkroom. Now sensitive
even to traces of the chemicals.
Considered permanently unfit radiography.”
Marjorie used her ACC payments to fund her research
into x-ray chemicals and spent the rest of her life educating
radiographers about the effects of the chemicals and the importance of
safe handling and good ventilation.
She gave it the name “Darkroom Disease” and fought for many others
affected around the world.
Marjorie died in February, 1996, following complications from a car
accident. Pip (Phillippa)
Martin is her daughter.
SNFTAAS aims to carry on her work - to help people affected by
glutaraldehyde, and by the wider cocktail of harmful
X-ray processing chemicals - including sulphur dioxide, acetic acid,
potassium hydroxide, hydroquinone, diethylene glycol, 5-nitroindazole and
toluene/benzene - (plus aerosols potentially containing these and
other developer/fixer components).
Glutaraldehyde is also very widely used as a cold
sterilant for medical instruments.
There are many other industrial uses.
NIOSH, (1987) lists glutaraldehyde as a solvent
and the Network also
aims to help those exposed to formaldehyde or other aldehydes and
Although the network initially focussed on the health
industry’s use of glutaraldehyde,
many of the effects of toxic chemicals are similar and frequently
those affected are accused of malingering; of it being “all in the mind”,
pre-, mid- or
post-menopausal, stress related, or from depression or an “illness
belief”. Those affected
are often misunderstood or ridiculed or subjected to enormous pressure to
return to the work they love before they are able (if at all). Good neuropsychological
testing is extremely important.
Other diagnostic “brain tests” are increasingly available. The acceptance of cases of
glutaraldehyde-induced neurotoxicity (GIN), or organic solvent
neurotoxicity (OSN) by ACC, NZ, has made winning recognition for chronic
effects (and therefore on-going compensation) considerably more clear-cut
in New Zealand.
(most common first) include: headache, sore throat, voice change or
loss, constant hhumph, catarrh, unexpected tiredness, fatigue,
sore/watery/gritty eyes (may be related to Sjogren’s Syndrome),
irritability, anxiety, depression, loss of concentration, short-term
memory loss, reactions to other chemicals, dizziness, blocked nose,
rhinitis, mouth ulcers, bad/metallic taste in mouth, lip sores, chest
tightness, shortness of breath, chest pains, asthma, sinusitis, nasal
discharge, nose bleeds, ulceration of nasal mucosa, itchy burning skin,
rashes, dermatitis, aching joints and muscles, fibromyalgia,
uncontrollable twitching, heart arrhythmias, palpitations, abdominal pain,
nausea, diarrhoea, tinnitus, earache, pins and needles, numbness in
fingers and toes, Raynaud’s Syndrome, menstrual irregularities, lack of
interest in sex, pain/difficulty urinating. Other areas of concern (though not
covered in any surveys) include liver damage, vision problems, teeth and
gum problems, cancers and reproductive effects.
SNFTAAS is non-profit-making and relies on the
efforts of volunteers to produce a
newsletter as time permits, compile an address list and on-going
case histories of members, to
maintain a bibliography of
papers and published material related to the above chemicals. Annual subscription is $25 or a donation. (Overseas cheques in any currency