Unclean bill of health

14.04.21: THE CHEMICAL giant IZF may be taken to the cleaners if 200 of its former employees win their landmark case, which began in the High Court today.

The plaintiffs, some of whom had worked in the dry-cleaning industry 30 years ago, claim that the chemicals used in their work have caused serious health problems and reduced their quality of life.

In a sign of the times, genetic research will provide vital evidence for the case. Claims for this type of industrial injury have been transformed by recent advances in genetic screening. Once, it was virtually impossible to prove that a substance had caused a particular disease, but since the identification of hot spots on genes, where certain chemicals have a quantifiable effect, it has been possible to be more precise.

'A chemical that was widely used in dry cleaning leaves a distinctive molecular fingerprint when it damages one of the genes involved in liver cancer,' confirmed Gladys Newington of the Dry Cleaners' Alliance. JB