The trouble here is, there's quite a statistical spike that catches folks who a) smoke, and b) have lifetime exposure to things like asbestos, solvents, metalworking, etc.
Because most folks here automatically fall into the b) catagory, they're aware of the link - and so avoid the a) catagory.
You don't really want to learn about the sorts of non-respiratory illnesses that tend to happen to folks who get caught on the statistical spike mentioned above. My mom is an enterstomal therapist nurse working at sloan kettering. I hate having converstations about this with her. Really puts one off the feed when talking over dinner.
Suffice it to say I've gotten very very cautions about *any* solvent use at work. Basically I've limted myself to ethanol. I figure if you can drink it it can't be that bad to get some on your hand. And I try to avoid that too.
The issue is, over the years workplaces have changed. It's no longer acceptable to have avoidable contact with solvents. By this I mean most employers are well-aware of the risks involved, and the legal liabilities that come along. Because of this, they do the utmost to provide fume hoods, protective gear and so on. Anyone who does not insist on that is crazy. Even more nutty if the gear is supplied and not used.
I almost quit my night job of a few years ago, early on, because they wanted me to use ethyl ether (starting fluid from a spray can) to clean white nylon parts after they were turned. The forman simply didn't understand the risk of doing this - he'd always done it and thought there was no danger at all. I printed out a copy of the MSDS for ether and brought it in. They stopped using ether as a catch-all shop solvent.
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