Tuesday 22 June 2021

Council scheme exposed jobless to toxic paint, almost 600 affected: media

An Intercity train.

An Intercity train. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Almost 600 jobless people from Tilburg who worked for the city council’s reintegration company removing paint from old trains may have been exposed to the toxin Chromium 6, Dutch media say on Tuesday.

The work was carried out between 2004 and 2011 for the city’s tROM agency which helps the jobless get back into work. It involved scouring old paint from trains so they could be renovated for an exhibition at the railway museum. Workers at the depot did not wear protective clothing or masks, the NRC says.

All 581 people have now had a letter from the council saying they may have been exposed to the toxic paint, particles of which can cause cancer when inhaled. A further eight people who led the train project were exposed to the paint for several years.

The FNV railway workers union first sounded the alarm about the use of the toxic paint on trains last year. Hundreds of maintenance workers are thought to have been exposed to the paint and an inquiry is currently underway.

The paint was also used on army vehicles and planes. More than 900 former defence workers have so far come forward with their concerns, of whom 25% say they have health problems. Some are suffering from cancers and auto-immune diseases after using paint.

Defence officials are thought to have known about the risks for 13 years before taking steps, the NRC says.

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