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DHS news release

Sept. 1, 2006

General contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282
Technical contact: Jae Douglas, 503-872-5356

Public comment invited: Eugene-area cancer investigation report

Public comment is being invited through Sept. 30 on new results of an Oregon Department of Human Services investigation into the incidence of industrially related cancer risks in northwest Eugene neighborhoods.

The investigation was prompted by residents of Eugene's River Road, Trainsong and Bethel areas who expressed concern that contaminants from the J. H. Baxter & Co. wood treatment plant and nearby industries were causing high rates of cancer.

The investigation found no significant increase in cancer cases in the area, said Jae Douglas, epidemiologist in the DHS Superfund Health Investigation and Education Program. The program is part of DHS Public Health Division's larger mission to promote personal and public health.

The complete report is available on the DHS Sup​erfund Web site or at the Eugene Public Library, 100 W. 10th Ave. Information about where and how to submit comments is in the report.

Douglas said the findings are based on a review of cancer data, specifically the incidence of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), lung, nasal and brain cancer in these neighborhoods from 1996 to 2003.

Cancers are common in all populations and they occur more frequently with increasing age, Douglas said.

"It is not unusual to know several people in a neighborhood who have some type of cancer," she said, "but it is difficult to determine whether the cancers share the same cause.

"This investigation focused on whether specific types of cancer occurred at increased levels and whether they were potentially linked to environmental contaminants released by nearby industries."

Although this study focused on cancer rates, Douglas said, residents also have expressed concerns about other potential health effects from industrial contaminants. "DHS hopes to address additional issues as new information becomes available," she said.