-- The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS)
and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
(ATSDR) tonight issued a public comment draft of the final report
on their six-year investigation into elevated levels of certain
childhood cancers in Dover Township, Ocean County.
Case-Control Study of Childhood Cancers in Dover Township was
unveiled tonight during an interactive town meeting televised live
by the local Comcast Cable affiliate (Channel 8) and on Channel
21, the Toms River school system's public access channel. The study
will be posted on the DHSS website at www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/hhazweb/dovertwp.htm
on December 19, 2002. The public may submit written comments on
the assessment through February 19, 2002.
findings support the hypotheses that past exposures to drinking
water from certain contaminated public water supply wells where
treatment systems have now been installed, and to air emissions
from a previous manufacturing plant appear to be risk factors for
childhood leukemia in township females.
a result of measures taken prior to and earlier in our investigation
of elevated levels of childhood cancer in Dover Township, all known
exposures from previous releases have been addressed," said
DHSS Acting Deputy Commissioner James S. Blumenstock. "The
public can take comfort in this fact."
epidemiological study was designed to examine whether there was
a relationship between the elevated incidence of certain childhood
cancers in the township, which occurred particularly among female
children, and identified exposures from environmental releases in
the past. Primarily, the DHSS and ATSDR sought to examine past exposures
to drinking water from the Parkway and Holly Street well fields
and private wells, and past exposures to ambient air emissions from
the Ciba-Geigy chemical plant.
the design of the study, the DHSS and ATSDR gathered advice from
experts outside their agencies, and asked for input from all stakeholder
groups. The agencies submitted a draft of the epidemiological study
report for peer review by two panels of experts.
study also examined other potential exposures based on community
concerns, including the Ciba-Geigy wastewater pipeline, the Dover
Township Municipal Landfill and the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating
Station located several miles south of Dover Township.
study of leukemia and brain and nervous system cancers in children
was comprised of two distinct parts: an interview study and a birth
records study. In both studies, children with cancer were compared
to a matched control group of children without cancer in order to
examine differences in exposures to local environmental hazards
and other potential risk factors, such as family medical history,
parental occupational exposures and dietary factors.
interview study analyzed answers to questionnaires completed by
the parents of 199 township children, including 40 children diagnosed
with cancer. The second study examined the birth records of 528
children who were born to township residents, including 48 children
later diagnosed with cancer.
study also utilized state-of-the-art computer models of the township's
water distribution system and of airflow patterns developed by ATSDR
and the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute
of the township's public water supply system were used to determine
the percent of water at each study participant's residence that
came from each of the system's well fields on a monthly basis from
1962 to 1996. Computer models were also used to estimate exposure
to air pollutants that may have spread from the Ciba-Geigy plant
over the same 35-year time period, and from the Oyster Creek Nuclear
Generating Station from 1970 to 1996.
draft report concludes, in part, that while no single factor appears
to be solely associated with the cancers that were studied, mothers
of female children who developed leukemia were more likely than
children without the disease to have been exposed during the prenatal
stage to water from the Parkway well field during the period when
the field was most likely to have been contaminated, from 1982 to
1996. Mothers of female children with leukemia were also more likely
to have been exposed to air pollutants emitted from the Ciba-Geigy
plant when it was in operation.
both these locations, the exposure pathways - the methods through
which people come in contact with pollutants - have been interrupted.
Treatment systems were installed to remove chemicals in water from
the affected wells in the Parkway well field and Ciba-Geigy stopped
production and related air emissions in the early to mid-1990s.
our findings suggest an association between these past exposures
and childhood leukemia in females, this does not automatically and
necessarily indicate a causal relationship," said DHSS Assistant
Commissioner and State Epidemiologist Eddy A. Bresnitz, M.D. "Due
to the relatively low number of study subjects and other factors,
chance cannot be excluded as a possible explanation for the findings."
study's principal investigator, Jerald A. Fagliano, Ph.D., of the
DHSS, noted that, "as important as what we found through this
comprehensive study is what we didn't find. We found no consistent
pattern of associations between the other environmental factors
and any of the other cancer groupings evaluated."
said the study did not find evidence that leukemia in male children,
or nervous systems cancers in male or female children, were associated
with environmental exposures in the community. Exposure to water
from the Holly Street well field during the period that it was most
likely to have been contaminated - prior to 1976 - did not appear
to be associated with childhood cancer.
study also found no associations between childhood cancer and air
pollutant emissions from the Oyster Creek nuclear plant, Fagliano
a result of their findings, the DHSS and ATSDR are recommending
that the department update the childhood cancer incidence health
consultation when complete data through 2000 becomes available from
the New Jersey State Cancer Registry. This effort will help determine
if there are any changes in childhood cancer incidence rates or
time trends in the township since the last report in 1997.
agencies are also recommending that efforts to cease or reduce exposure
to hazardous substances now and in the future be continued. These
efforts should include periodic groundwater sampling of the plume
emanating from the Reich Farm Superfund site to monitor its location
and ensure it does not affect current non-affected public supply
wells at the Parkway well field. In addition, monitoring of the
effectiveness of treatment systems now in place at the Parkway well
field should continue to ensure that contaminants are not reintroduced
into the community water distribution system.
DHSS and ATSDR are further recommending that the current private
well restriction zones in Dover Township be maintained, and that
efforts by the United State Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
and Ciba Specialty Chemicals to contain and remove contaminants
from the affected aquifer associated with the Ciba-Geigy site should
continue, and that remediation of the property to prevent future
exposures to hazardous chemicals also continue.
of the epidemiological report and a citizen's guide summarizing
its findings will be available for public review at the Ocean County
Health Department and Dover Township Public Library for 60 days
beginning Wednesday, December 19, 2000. Copies of the reports will
also be available by calling the New Jersey Department of Health
and Senior Services at 609-588-3120. The report will also be posted
on the department's website at www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/hhazweb/dovertwp.htm
comments should be addressed to: New Jersey Department of Health
and Senior Services, Consumer and Environmental Health Services,
P.O. Box 369, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0369.
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