10 June 2008

Checking for Cancer in Wood County (Updated)

The Associated Press reports that "DuPont is planning a detailed study looking at why workers at a West Virginia plant appear to be getting a rare form of cancer at a higher rate than normal."

The study will focus on incidents of tumors among employees at its Washington Works facility near Parkersburg.

"DuPont first began looking into the situation in 2006 after two workers at the plant were diagnosed with carcinoid tumors," AP reports. "DuPont has since found 18 more instances of employees with carcinoid tumors across the country, including five more at Washington Works. The cancer cases date back to the 1980s and include current and retired employees."

A local health official tells MetroNews "he'll contact the Centers for Disease Control this week with recently released cancer statistics from the DuPont Plant near Parkersburg."

Dick Wittberg, director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, "wants to find out from the CDC if the numbers represent a cluster and if the rate is higher or significantly higher than random occurrences," MetroNews reports.

The Parkersburg News reports that DuPont has been relaying signs of "elevated cancer rates" at the Washington Works plant to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection.

The tumors
are "rare, slow-growing tumors that usually appear both in the gastro intestinal system and in the lungs," Morel Symons, supervisor of the DuPont epidemiology program, told the newspaper. “They also are one of the few tumors that affect the appendix.”

Update: The Charleston Gazette got the ball rolling on Sunday, when it cited government records to report that "DuPont Co. officials have discovered evidence of a possible 'cancer cluster' among workers."

"The company has told federal regulators there may be a fivefold increase in certain cancers among Washington Works employees, compared to other DuPont plants," the article said.

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