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Cancer Incidence among Former Love Canal Residents

Lenore J. Gensburg, Cristian Pantea, Christine Kielb, Edward Fitzgerald, Alice Stark and Nancy Kim
Environmental Health Perspectives
Vol. 117, No. 8 (Aug., 2009), pp. 1265-1271
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40221264
Page Count: 7
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Abstract

Background: The Love Canal was a rectangular 16-acre, 10-ft-deep chemical waste landfill situated in a residential neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York This seriously contaminated site came to public attention in 1978. Only one prior study examined cancer incidence in former residents of the Love Canal neighborhood (LC). Objective: In this study we aimed to describe cancer incidence in former LC residents from 1979 to 1996 and to investigate whether it differs from that of New York State (NYS) and Niagara County (NC). Methods: From 1978 to 1982, we interviewed 6,181 former residents, and 5,052 were eligible to be included in this study. In 1996, we identified 304 cancer diagnoses in this cohort using the NYS Cancer Registry. We compared LC cancer incidence with that of NYS and NC using standardized incidence ratios (SIRs), and we compared risks within the LC group by potential exposure to the landfill using survival analysis. Results: SIRS were elevated for cancers of the bladder [$SIR_{NYS} $= 1.44; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.91-2.16] and kidney $SIR_{NYS} $= 1.48; 95% CI, 0.76-2.58). Although CIs included 1.00, other studies have linked these cancers to chemicals similar to those found at Love Canal. We also found higher rates of bladder cancer among residents exposed as children, based on two cases. Conclusions: In explaining these excess risks, the role of exposure to the landfill is unclear given such limitations as a relatively small and incomplete study cohort, imprecise exposure measurements, and the exclusion of cancers diagnosed before 1979. Given the relatively young age of the cohort, further surveillance is warranted.

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