The term “obligated exposure” represents one of the most useful and terrible concepts offered in Elaine Hampton’s and Cynthia C. Ontiveros’s Copper Stain. It embodies the idea that the (mostly) men who worked at the El Paso, Texas ASARCO copper smelting plant and the surrounding community acquiesced to the toxic chemicals produced in order to gain “economic resources” (p. 129). Based on sixty-five interviews (only one woman), the story offers a searing and horrific study of highly risky work conditions that included dangerous machinery, molten fire, and hazardous chemicals. It suggests that place (border) and region (the West) play a significant part in the story of a Texas city’s mining industry. In the process, the book offers a reconfigured understanding of sociologist Ulrich Beck’s “risk society.”
Hay, Amy H., "Copper Stain: Asarco’s Legacy in El Paso. The Environment in Modern North America. By Elaine Hampton and Cynthia C. Ontiveros (review)" (2020). History Faculty Publications and Presentations. 52.
Western Historical Quarterly