208245 Downstream cancer mortality: Using geospatial techniques to examine point source pollution impacts within the Ohio River watershed

Monday, November 9, 2009: 3:32 PM

Clifton Wesley Strange, BA , West Virginia Rural Health Research Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Evan Fedorko , West Virginia Rural Health Research Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Michael Hendryx, PhD , West Virginia Rural Health Research Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Background. Industrial and agricultural processes result in the release of harmful contaminants into ground and surface water, including contaminants that are established risks for a variety of cancers. The study of watersheds has provided insight into the potential impact contaminants can have in areas far removed from their point source.

Methods. Merging epidemiological and geospatial techniques, cancer mortality is assessed in nonindustrial areas downstream from potential contaminant point sources within the Ohio River basin, a watershed comprising roughly 500 counties throughout 13 US States. Cancer data were obtained from the CDC public files, expressed as county-level, age-adjusted mortality per 100,000 for the years 1999-2005. Point pollution sources were obtained from the EPA Toxic Release Inventory and the eGRID database on power point locations. Watershed data and maps were obtained from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Hydrography Dataset, respectively. Comparisons were made to demographically and geographically similar counties in the watershed absent of significant upstream contaminant sources. Statistical analyses controlled for other risk factors for cancer incidence (e.g., smoking rates, poverty rates, physician supply, etc.) using data from the US Census, the Area Resource File and other sources.

Results and Discussion. Database development is currently underway as part of a larger study funded by the Health Resources Services Administration. Data will be analyzed using spatial and quantitative modeling and results will be developed over the spring and summer of 2009. Results will be evaluated to determine associations between point pollution sources, watershed processes, and human health outcomes.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the potential cancer outcomes related to surface water contaminants. 2. Explain the importance of examining detailed watershed data when determining point source contaminant impact. 3. Formulate strategies for the reduction of point source pollutant impact on downstream populations.

Keywords: Water Quality, Cancer

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently enrolled in a doctoral program in public health and am working under Michael Hendryx, the principal investigator for the West Virginia Rural Health Research Center. He has also published numerous articles relating to the environmental impact of coal mining in Appalachia. I have also worked alongside Evan Fedorko, a GIS Information Technician for the West Virginia Geographic Information Systems Technology Center. I have studied advanced statistical and epidemiological methods for the public health research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.