Residual Chemical Toxicity In Used Steel Drum Containers: Health Impacts On Steelpan Builders
Joseph, Michael Carlyle
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Residual Chemical Toxicity in Used Steel Drum Containers: Health Impacts on Steelpan Builders is a study from an insider's perspective about residual toxic chemicals in the traditional steelpan musical instrument building. Steel drums originally were meant to be just storage containers for oil and industrial chemicals, but they emerged as the raw materials to make steelpans in the 1930s. Toxicity problems arise because steelpan making in backyards cannot be classified under a hazardous workplace regulation, therefore steelpan makers are not obligated to observe environmental guidelines. I decided to investigate the core of this problem, by doing collaborative action research with two Trinidad and Tobago based individuals: one a steelpan builder and the other a steelpan tuner. My third collaborator is a steelpan player/ educator based in Canada. I wanted to include persons who experienced consequences of the toxins found in their workplaces, or individuals who are acquainted with persons who may have died from toxins in the workplace. The study results showed that there is validity in the accounts of interviewees whose stories proved consistent through data triangulation for reliability. The research findings showed that the process of building steelpans was very similar in different settings and in various locations. The study also showed that there are environmental impacts on the biosphere from steelpan building and the people most affected by toxins are the steelpans builders themselves. Results from the study indicate the need for further collaborative research with medical professionals collecting data by way of blood samples, health records of steelpan workers and residents living close to steelpan manufacturing areas. This approach will help determine if those who are deceased may have been inadvertently harmed by their work in steelpan-making, and 3 provide the basis for proper interventions to buck the trend. Pan Trinbago should place emphasis on getting the message out to its constituent members regarding the prevention of industrial hazards and accidents through proper outfitting of steelpan making facilities. As the world governing body of steelpan, Pan Trinbago should endorse EnviroPan, with its focus on green concepts for steelpan in the form of a directive to all globally affiliated steelpan associations. This is to ensure steelpan-makers have access to clean raw materials when utilizing used steel drum containers for their craft. EnviroPan has designed a mobile modern steel drum cleaning facility to assist with proper waste chemical storage and disposal, followed by an enclosed high pressure steam cleaning processes for the safety of steelpan frontline workers and the nearby residents. Pan Trinbago should explore and promote EnviroPan: Green Seal for Steelpan as the certification standard for the global industry and assist in disseminating these findings through the EnviroPan Project.