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IBM data seeing light of day

Richard Clapp, whose yet unpublished study of cancer deaths among IBM workers at semiconductor plants has been the subject of controversy, says he is finally submitting his data to a print journal.

By | December 20, 2004

Richard Clapp, whose yet unpublished study of cancer deaths among IBM workers at semiconductor plants has been the subject of controversy, says he is finally submitting his data to a print journal. Clapp, who obtained the data from IBM as part of a court case brought against the company by former employees diagnosed with cancer, says he is "relieved to have finally gotten to this point." The paper found that semiconductor workers showed higher-than-average death rates from brain, skin, lymphatic, and hematopoietic tissue cancers.

The controversy began when Clinics in Occupational and Environmental Medicine refused to include the paper in the November 2004 issue dedicated to health issues related to the electronics industry (see http://www.the-scientist.com/news/20040623/04). In response, the guest editor, Joseph LaDou of the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, contacted all contributors and asked them to withdraw their articles until Clapp's paper is published. All agreed.

IBM has argued that Clapp cannot release the data without violating a confidentiality agreement. In November, instead of the originally scheduled issue, the journal published "Industrial Solvents and Human Health, Part II," by guest editors S.D. Phillips and G.R. Krieger. LaDou says all the authors originally slated to appear with Clapp in the Clinics journal have agreed to wait until Clapp's data appear before submitting their studies (which will by now need updating) to other journals, and all have stuck with the agreement.

LaDou says he hopes they won't have to wait much longer. "I'm sure the Clapp study ... is going to be published," he predicts. "This is really a courageous thing for Clapp to do."

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