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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Chronic low level exposure to gasoline vapors and risk of cancer: A community-based study

Ami Patel, MPH1, Evelyn O. Talbott, MPH, DrPH2, Jeanne V. Zborowski, PhD2, Juley Rycheck, MPH3, Danielle Dell, MPH2, and Joseph Schwerha, MD, MPH4. (1) Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, 127 Parran Hall, 130 DeSoto St, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, (412) 624-6170, patela@edc.pitt.edu, (2) Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, A526 Crabtree Hall, 130 DeSoto Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, (3) Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, 507 Parran Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, (4) Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh, A716 Crabtree Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261

The Tranguch Fuel Spill was characterized as a leakage of 50,000-900,000 gallons of gasoline from underground storage tanks in Hazle Township and Hazleton, Pennsylvania. As a result, it is believed that residents within the Environmental Protection Agency-defined remediation area were chronically exposed to low levels of benzene since at least 1990. In response to community concerns, a retrospective cohort study was conducted to determine if affected residents were at increased risk for cancer from 1990-2000 compared to the Pennsylvania populace.

A total of 663 individuals representing 275 households comprised the study population. Demographic, health, and residential history data were collected via questionnaires. Self-reported cancers were verified by physicians and cross-referenced with the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry. Age-adjusted standard incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated using Pennsylvania rates as reference.

The age-adjusted SIR for the Hazle Township/Hazleton affected area was 0.82 (95% CI: 0.64-1.18) for all-site cancer and was 4.12 (95%CI: 1.12-10.55) for leukemia. The residential location of the two acute myelogenous leukemia cases directly bordered the more concentrated areas of gasoline as projected from groundwater sampling.

These results suggest a possible association between chronic low-level benzene exposure and increased risk for leukemia in the residents living near the Tranguch spill site. While acute myelogenous leukemia has been definitively linked to benzene exposure in occupational cohorts, causality cannot be determined since comprehensive historical benzene exposure estimates were not available for individual residents. The primary recommendation made to public health agencies and the community was surveillance for hematopoietic malignancies and screening for disease precursors.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Environmental Exposures, Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Public Health in the Environment 2

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA