False alarm?

The peculiar destiny of glycol ethers in the field of occupational health in France
By Jean-Noël Jouzel

This article recounts the history of the health alert about the dangers of glycol ethers in France. This began in the field of occupational health, in the middle of the 1990's, vanished for a few years and then reappeared after the asbestos scandal. This contribution shows how glycol ethers became publicized by professionals concerned at the health effects of chemical substances circulating in their professional environment. As a consequence, this alert does not share one of the major characteristics of most alerts, whose publicization depends on the capacity of some political actors to make uncertainties proliferate around them. It is thus hoped that this article will underline how the field of occupational health resists the changes visible in other fields of public health.

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