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It is a story we were never supposed to know – secrets that go back to the beginning of the chemical revolution. For almost 50 years, chemical companies and their Washington trade association kept records – including confidential letters and internal correspondence that discuss scientific evidence of the toxic effects of chemicals like vinyl chloride, and minutes of board meetings that record frank talk about strategies to defeat or delay regulation of their products.

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Most of the documents would have never come to light had it not been for a lawsuit filed by Elaine and Dan Ross in the months before Dan died of a rare form of brain cancer. For 23 years, he had worked with vinyl chloride and other toxic chemicals at a plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Attorney William Baggett, Jr. waged the legal battle for the Rosses that included charges of conspiracy against companies producing vinyl chloride. Dan's employers – and most of the other companies – have now settled. But the long process of legal discovery eventually produced more than a million pages of once confidential documents.

To view the complete set of documents cited in TRADE SECRETS – as well as documents providing additional information for the subjects and decisions discussed in the program - select a category below.

Internal company memos reveal that corporate officials and medical officers knew about the potential health hazards of vinyl chloride and document how they worked among themselves to keep that information from the public.

Documents outline the strategies employed by the chemical industry to keep government regulators at bay.

For a searchable database of many other chemical industry documents from the Ross archive, go to

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