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OHA News Release

Media contact:
Marcia Danab
Oregon DEQ 971-255-7518
Technical contact:
Additional contacts:
Jonathan Modie
OHA Public Health 971-246-9139
Julie Sullivan-Springhetti
Multnomah County 503-709-9858


OHA publishes 15-year cancer data for areas near glass companies

The Oregon Health Authority has published its analyses of cancer rates for the past 15 years in neighborhoods surrounding glass companies in southeast and north Portland. Analyses were done in five-year increments for the years 1999 through 2013.

According to the report, rates of lung and bladder cancer, the diseases most closely associated with exposure to arsenic and cadmium, were generally consistent with expected rates from 1999 through 2013 near Bullseye Glass Co. and Uroboros Glass, where environmental levels of heavy metals were found to be elevated. The only exception was for one, five-year period in north Portland, where a small, statistically significant increase in the number of observed bladder cancer cases was noted during 1999 through 2003.

Public health officials caution that the small number of expected bladder cancer cases (calculated based on rates in all of Multnomah County) in the two north Portland Census tracts during 1999 through 2003 meant that even a small, but increased number of observed cases could result in a statistically significant outcome. The increase in observed cases was not sustained in subsequent years.

The data available for these analyses offer information about cancer rates in specific geographic areas for specific years, but cannot determine the reasons why cancer cases occur. Cancer is a multifactorial disease, with age, gender, heredity and personal exposures contributing to its development. Individual cases are therefore difficult to attribute to any particular factor, including tobacco use, which is the personal exposure most strongly associated with both lung and bladder cancer.

The report can be viewed on the OHA website.

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