7 Sep 2011

Timber workers want PCP health issues acknowledged

7:40 pm on 7 September 2011

Timber-mill workers poisoned by the deadly chemical sodium pentachlorophenate or PCP says it's time the Government formally acknowledged their plight.

A Massey University study has found that mill workers heavily exposed to anti-sapstain solution, have a 40% increased risk of dying of cancer, and a much higher rate of respiratory disease.

The study reveals high levels of dioxin in the men's bodies, in some cases, decades after they'd worked in a mill.

Nikora Curtis, who's been lobbying for years for action to help the millworkers, says in Bay of Plenty, they're dying before their time.

He says past generations lived to their 70s and 80s, but amongst the millworkers life expectancy has dropped with staff dying in their 40s and 50s.

Mr Curtis says this year alone, nine former staff members have died and most of them have been cancer related deaths.

He says a new Ministry of Health initiative, allowing the affected mill-workers one free doctor's visit a year, is good, but doesn't address the enormity of what happened to them.