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NW Eugene Area Cancer Study

There are several industrial sites located in the Northwest Eugene area of Lane County. Community leaders in Trainsong, River Road, and Bethel Neighborhoods expressed concern to the Environmental Health Assessment Program (EHAP) regarding cancer rates in their neighborhoods while EHAP was assessing the health impact of the J.H. Baxter Plant in 2003.

To address community concerns about cancer, EHAP worked with the Oregon State Cancer Registry (OSCaR) to obtain and analyze the number of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), brain cancer, nasal cancer, and lung cancer cases in River Road, Trainsong, and Bethel neighborhoods. 

Although currently there is no recognized association between AML and brain cancer and the contaminants emitted from J.H. Baxter, EHAP agreed to address the community's concerns about these cancers and conduct the investigation. EHAP included nasal and lung cancer in this review since these two types of cancers are possibly linked to contaminants released from the J.H. Baxter plant.

EHAP's original report released in September 2006 investigated cancer cases from 1996-2002 and found no significant increases for that time period. OSCaR provided EHAP with cancer data through 2004, and EHAP released an additional report investigating the updated data.

EHAP did not find significant elevations in AML or nasal cancer for the investigation time period (1996-2004). Cases of brain cancer in the Bethel neighborhood were significantly elevated for the years 1996-2002. Because of the small number of cases involved, EHAP was unable to determine whether the statistical results from 1996-2002 represents and actual increase in cases.

There was a significant elevation of lung cancer cases in the study area. There is not enough data on environmental contaminants or individuals' personal health history to determine if the elevated lung cancer cases are due to exposure to industrial contaminants. However, the medical history of these cases indicated that the majority (28 of 29) of these had a history of smoking.

EHAP is currently working again with OSCaR to create a new cancer study using more recent data and an expanded list of cancer types. EHAP expects to complete this cancer study in Fall 2021.

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