2007.12.07 – Report backs cancer claims

Report backs cancer claims

Friday, 07 December 2007
Staff Writer

A federal report due out next week “for the first time provides significant evidence” that people living near the McAdoo Associates Superfund site faced an extra risk of developing a rare blood cancer because of environmental factors.

The report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ruled out family relationships, work and recreational activities among people stricken with polycythemia vera.

“Lack of traditional epidemiological explanations and the high degree of statistical certainty for the geographical association of the cases strongly suggests that an external influence led to the development of PV,” the report says.

The agency is scheduled to present the report Monday in Atlanta at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology, but members of Army for a Clean Environment who have been monitoring the research obtained an abstract of the report, which also is on the society’s Web site.

People living within 13 miles of McAdoo Associates were four and a half times more likely to get polycythemia vera than other residents of Schuylkill, Luzerne and Carbon counties, the researchers found.

At McAdoo Associates, toxic chemicals were dumped into mines from 1975 to 1979. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleaned the site in the early 1990s, but doesn’t know the extent of the dumping or the fate of the chemicals, ATSDR’s report says.

The “external stimulus” associated with contracting polycythemia vera remains uncharacterized, the report says.

ATSDR confirmed 38 cases of the disease, including four on Ben Titus Road. Eighteen people with confirmed cases lived within 13 miles of McAdoo Associates for five years or more between 1970 and 1995.

The confirmed cases represent a conservative estimate of the total cases, the report says.

Researchers identified 97 cases in the state registry and had 34 other patients report that they had the disease. Of those 131 people, 63 were tested.

The report was written by Ronald Hoffman, Mingjiang Xu, Aisha Jumaan, Brian Lewis, Carol A. Gotway, Vincent Seaman and Paul I. Roda, an oncologist in Hazleton.

kent.jackson@standardspeaker. com