Immunologist: Stuffy nose not a sign of chemical poisoning

FEB. 10–SANTA CLARA, Calif.–An immunologist testified in the IBM cleanroom cancer trial that symptoms exhibited by one of the plaintiffs while he worked at the computer company’s San Jose plant were not signs of chemical poisoning.

Former IBM workers James Moore and Alida Hernandez allege that they developed cancer as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals at IBM’s Cottle Road facility. They also contend that IBM knew they were ill and concealed that knowledge from them.

According to the Mercury News of San Jose, immunologist Andrew Saxon told jurors in Santa Clara County Superior Court that he concluded from a review of Moore’s medical records that the profuse nasal discharge Moore described to IBM doctors in 1967 did not indicate he suffered from chemical poisoning.

Saxon, director of the Asthma, Allergy and Immunologic Disease Center at the University of California-Los Angeles, drew a diagram of the nose and how it functions for the jury. He explained that Moore’s exposure to clean-room solvents had the same kind of effect on the nose as slicing onions or skiing in cold weather.

“It knows that something is uncomfortable. It will try to flush things out,” Saxon said. “It’s a local effect.”

When asked if profuse nasal discharge was a sign of systemic chemical poisoning, Saxon said, “No, it’s a runny nose. It’s not a systemic effect.” He later added that he had never heard the diagnosis of systemic chemical poisoning in his entire medical career.

Moore testified that while he worked at IBM he experienced profuse nasal discharge, sinus problems, a loss of a sense of smell and occasional color blindness.

Saxon also attributed Moore’s complaints of nasal stuffiness to allergies.

“People continually call allergies sinus trouble,” Saxon said. He noted that Moore likely experienced allergies when he moved to San Jose from the San Joaquin Valley, even though he had not suffered from allergies previously, because of the year-round presence of pollen in the Bay Area.


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