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---May 2, 1989---
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A 1984 study by the federal Centers for Disease Control revealed a pattern of excessive cancer deaths in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, where the Drake Superfund site is located. The researchers focused first on bladder cancers, but then found others cancers in greater numbers.

The Drake Chemical Company used, manufactured and stored scores of chemicals on a 46-acre site for many years, including the known human carcinogens beta-naphthylamine, benzidine and benzene.

Researchers from the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) evaluated health data for Clinton County and found that bladder cancers doubled in Clinton county from 1950 to 1979, whereas bladder cancers decreased for all of Pennsylvania and remained the same in the whole United States during the same time. Ten bladder cancers occurred among white males in Clinton (a county of 39,000 people) during the decade of the 1950s; by the decade of the '70s the rate was up to 23. However, during the same period, the bladder cancer rate among white females in Clinton decreased. On this basis, the CDC researchers conclude that probably the cancers were caused by occupational exposure to chemicals, rather than general exposure resulting from the Superfund dump.

The cancer rates for nine other types of cancer were even more elevated in Clinton County than were bladder cancers. The CDC researchers conclude that at least one of these cancers (non-Hodgkins lymphomas, or cancers of the lymph glands) struck both men and women in Clinton County at excessive rates, "suggesting" that a "general environmental exposure" to at least one carcinogenic chemical occurred.

Other elevated cancer rates in Clinton county included leukemias among women (but not men), bone cancer among men (but not women), cancer of the salivary glands (among men, but not women), cancer of the uterus, and cancers of the rectum and larynx (among women, but not men).

Get: Lawrence Budnick, and others. "Cancer and Birth defects Near the Drake Superfund Site, Pennsylvania." ARCHIVES OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, Vol. 39, No. 6 (November/December, 1984), pgs. 409-413.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.

Descriptor terms: cancer; health effects; studies; pa; landfilling; landfills; superfund; npl;

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