A glance at the stock shelves of any neighborhood store, even in a small town, shows that chemicals are playing an increasingly important part in our daily life. The grocer sells synthetic detergents; the hardware store, paints, laquers, paint and stain removers; the drugstore, insecticide sprays; the corner gasoline station offers window cleaners and all manner of chemicals for service of the automobile, and the local tailor installs modern dry cleaning equipment using the latest synthetic solvents. All of these new materials are intended to simplify or to beautify modern life, and often they actually do so. From the point of view of the physician, however, chemicals may complicate rather than simplify health problems, since, if the materials are not used with adequate information or intelligence, new and unexpected hazards are introduced.
The health hazards, which have so long been regarded as "industrial," are no longer purely such. Manufacturers of