217531 Cleft lip/ cleft palate births and radioactivity in water sources in Harris County, Texas

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 12:50 PM - 1:10 PM

Nour Abdo, MPH, BVMS, CHES , Department of Health Science, MSC 3HLS, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
Ruja Abdo, MVetSci, MPH, BVMS , Veterinary Sciences Laboratory, Jordan Ministry of Agriculture, Raleigh, NC
Ashley Graboski-Bauer, MPH, CHES , Emergency Response Team/Public Health Preparedness, Texas Department of State Health Services, El Paso, TX
Irina Cech , Houston, Texas, School of Public Health, Houston, TX
Keith Burau , Houston, university of Texas, School of Public Health, Houston, TX
Shadi Al Khatib , Jordan university of science and technology, king Abdulla Hospital, Irbid, Jordan
Introduction: Radon and radium are radioactive elements associated with cleft deformities. Low-level concentrations of these elements are present in the domestic water supply of Harris County, Texas. The present study investigated whether this contamination was associated with an increased rate of county births with cleft deformities from 1989-1994; it also evaluated differences between census tract-level vs. zip code-level geocoding.

Methods: Radon and radium concentration levels were derived from earlier studies. Residential addresses of county births with cleft deformities were geocoded and aggregated to the census tract-level. Data was analyzed using various statistical measures and compared with to a study by Walston (2007) which geocoded and aggregated residential addresses to the zip code-level.

Results: Cleft deformity rates were 1.4-1.6 times greater for census tracts with elevated radium or radon. For radium, the association was not statistically significant (p=0.28 and p=0.43); for radon it was borderline significant (p = 0.06) in a univariate model and significant (p = 0.046) in a multivariate model. The primary difference between the results of the present study and those of Walston (2007) was that the latter study found a statistically significant association between radium concentrations and the prevalence of cleft deformities while the present study did not.

Conclusions: Some association exists between radon contamination and cleft deformities in Harris County, Texas which warrants further investigation. While in the present study the two aggregated geocoding methods produced largely similar results, census track-level data circumvents several concerns associated with zip code-level data.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Differentiate between issues associated with aggregating geocoded data at the census track-level versus aggregating geocoded data at the zip code-level. Explain health concerns about prenatal radon and radium exposure and cleft deformities, particularly in Harris County, Texas.

Keywords: Environmental Health Hazards, Birth Defects

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstarct author on the content I am responsible for because I was already involved in reasearch regarding radon in environment and health in my master thesis and in helping Ruja Abdo in her thesis regarding radon in environment and health too.
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.