Posts Tagged ‘DOE’

DOE construction workers report high incidence of mesothelioma

10 Sep 2009 by under News, People, Research/Treatment

DOE logo 100x100 DOE construction workers report high incidence of mesotheliomaA recent study published in the September 2009 issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reports workers at four U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facilities have elevated risks for developing cancer, and former construction workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state are 11 times more likely to develop , in particular.

The study, Mortality of Older Construction and Craft Workers Employed at Department of Energy (DOE) Sites, was funded by the DOE and involved a medical screening program that began in 1996 and followed older construction workers at four DOE nuclear weapons complex sites. Sites in the study were Savannah River Site (SRS), South Carolina; Hanford near Richland, Wash.; and facilities at Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Amchitka, .

The study indicated Hanford workers were 11 times more likely to develop mesothelioma, and three times more likely to develop multiple myeloma, a cancer found in white blood cells. Additionally, Hanford workers died of asbestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs resulting from asbestos inhalation, at rates 30 times higher than the general population. The study also found higher rates of deaths from cancers of the trachea, bronchus and lungs among Hanford workers.

According to the report, significantly excess mortality was observed for all cancers, lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis at all four sites studied. Additionally, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was in excess at Oak Ridge and multiple myeloma was in excess at Hanford. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was significantly elevated among workers at the Savannah River Site.

Workers participating in the study, called the Building Trades National Medical Screening Program, were followed to determine their vital status and mortality experience through Dec. 31, 2004. There were 8,976 workers included in the initial screening program, all of whom had participated in the building trades at the sites. Their data was gathered between 1998 and 2004, and compared to the National Death Index.

Approximately 31 percent of the people in the study – or close to 3,000 workers – had done construction work at the Hanford facility. Since the beginning of the study, 266 Hanson workers had passed away, and 94 of those deaths were attributed to cancer. That number reflects 14 more cancer deaths than would be expected in the general U.S. population.

According to its web site, the Building Trades National Medical Screening Program was developed to identify health problems caused by hazardous substances that workers may have been exposed to while working on a Department of Energy site. It is led by the CPWR, The Center for Construction Research and Training, in Washington, D.C. The consortium includes the University of Cincinnatie Medical Center (Ohio), Duke University Medical Center (N.C.), and Zenith Administrators, Inc., Seattle, Wash. The program is sponsored by the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO and endorsed by various state and local Building and Construction Trades Councils.

Additional sources:

Seattle PI
Aiken Standard
The News Tribune