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Order amid Chaos

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January 2002

The facts and opinions expressed are those of Bruce Anderson

Reflections
In the year 2001 we saw some closure and a renewed light on our continuing path. We participated in many areas, from the settlement, to the draft of the Case-Control Study of Childhood Cancers in Dover Township, from Ciba's landfill permit, to helping students understand what has been occurring here in Toms River, NJ. The number of visitors to this web site reached over thirty thousand last year, over four thousand in the past month. TEACH will continue to remain active in various environmental aspects as we move forward.
Case-Control Study of Childhood Cancers in Dover Township (Toms River) N.J.

Toms River

We believed that this report is a microscopic view of what has been occurring here in Toms River, NJ. This report represents one of many steps in this investigation. Below are a few facts contained in this draft report.

A Review and Analysis of Cancer Registry Data, 1979-1995 for Dover Township (Ocean County), New Jersey (1997), confirmed that the overall childhood cancer incidence rate in Dover Township was statistically significantly elevated for the period 1979 through 1995, primarily due to excesses of leukemia (over 9 times higher than expected) and brain and central nervous system cancer (11.5 times higher than expected) in females residing in the Toms River section of the Township.

Findings of the PHRP evaluation of potential exposure pathways in the community indicated that past releases of toxic chemicals into the environment had resulted in exposure to residents in Dover Township.

Consequently, NJDHSS and ATSDR concluded that the Reich Farm Superfund site was a public health hazard due to past human exposure to toxic chemicals due to groundwater contamination which affected both private wells and wells in the public water distribution system.

NJDHSS and ATSDR also concluded that the Ciba-Geigy Corporation Superfund site represented a public health hazard due to past human exposures to toxic chemicals from operations at the facility, through past groundwater contamination affecting public water wells and private wells used for irrigation. Past air pollution emissions from the facility were also of public health concern.

The primary hypotheses in this study are that childhood cancers were associated with environmental exposure pathways which were identified in earlier reports:
  • contamination of potable water from UWTR Parkway well field by the Reich Farm Superfund site;
  • contamination of potable water from UWTR Holly Street well field, due to wastewater discharge into the Toms River from the Ciba-Geigy site;
  • contamination of potable water affecting private wells near the Reich Farm and Ciba-Geigy sites and other areas in Dover Township from other or unknown sources; and
  • air pollution emissions front the Ciba-Geigy facility.

Potential exposure to other environmental factors are also considered in order to address additional community concerns. These environmental factors included:

  • potential exposure to ambient air releases from the Oyster Creek Nuclear (Generating Station, located approximately ten miles South of Dover Township; and
  • residential proximity to sites in the area which concerned the community:
  • the Ciba-Geigy Superfund site;
  • a section of the Toms River where treated wastewater was discharged (1952 to 1966) from the Ciba-Geigy facility;
  • the Ciba-Geigy pipeline which transported treated wastewater across Dover Township (1966 to 1991) and experienced three documented breaks (1984, 1988, and 1989) during its usage;
  • the Reich Farm Superfund site;
  • the Dover Township Municipal Landfill;
  • the Ocean County Landfill; and
  • the Toms River Coal Gas site.

Although no associations were detected in analyses of the overall study population, a statistically significant association and consistency in multiple measures of association were seen between prenatal exposure to time-specific Parkway well field water (1982-1996) and leukemia in female children. These findings are consistent with one of the study's a priori hypothesis that exposure to Parkway well field water during this interval was a risk factor for childhood leukemia.

Ciba-Geigy was the only industrial facility in the Dover Township area which met the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's definition of a major emitter of hazardous air pollutants, including carcinogenic materials.

Conclusions


NJDHSS and ATSDR have concluded the following:

No single risk factor evaluated appears to be solely responsible for the overall elevation of childhood cancer incidence in Dover Township.

Although no associations were detected in analyses of the overall study population, a statistically significant association and consistency in multiple measures of association were seen between prenatal exposure to time-specific Parkway well field water (1982-1996) and leukemia in female children of all ages. This finding seems to support the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to Parkway well field water during this interval was a risk factor for childhood leukemia in females. However, it is important to note that there is considerable uncertainty in the findings.

Although no associations were detected in analyses of the overall study population, a consistent elevation in the odds ratios and an apparent close response effect was seen in both the Interview and Birth Records Studies between prenatal exposure to Ciba-Geigy ambient air and leukemia in female children diagnosed prior to age five. This finding seems to support the hypothesis that exposure to Ciba-Geigy air emissions was a risk factor for childhood leukemia in females. As noted above, there is considerable uncertainty in the findings.

No associations were seen between exposure to Holly Street well field water prior to 1976 and any of the cancer groupings evaluated. However, because few children had any study time before 1976, the ability to examine this factor was limited in this study.

The use of a private well for drinking water within any region that had a history of groundwater contamination was rare in this study. Odds ratios for leukemia were elevated in the Interview Study for ever living in a residence with a private well in any of these groundwater regions during the postnatal time period, but could not be calculated for the prenatal period.

An association was observed during the prenatal and postnatal time periods for residential distance from the Ciba-Geigy pipeline and leukemia in female children, but the association diminished when documented Ciba-Geigy pipeline breaks were taken into consideration. No completed exposure pathways associated with the Ciba-Geigy pipeline were identified in the Ciba-Geigy Public Health Assessment.

No consistent patterns of association were seen between the other environmental factors and any of the cancer groupings evaluated.

Study findings related to the other factors evaluated were found to be generally consistent with the published literature, with the exception of the consumption of cured meat variables.

The ability to adjust for confounding in this study was limited due to the relatively small number of study subjects.

  • This link is to Volume 1, Summary of the Final Technical Report
    Township of Dover, (Toms River, N.J.),
    Historical Water Model


    The computer historical water modeling program was used in the Case Control Study of Childhood cancers in Toms River, NJ. The program was used to predict which wells supplied water to different sections of the township during different months of the study.

    Toms River Wells

    "Computer-based reconstruction modeling conducted by ATSDR was used to derive monthly estimates of the percent of water delivered to each study residence from each well field in the public water distribution system from 1962 through 1996(for more detail see Volume IV, Appendix D). From these modeled data, the average percent of public water delivered (called the exposure index)from each of the well fields was calculated for each study subject using residential information. Three exposure categories were formed: low (receiving less than 10% of their water from the specified public well field); medium (receiving 10% to 49.9% of their water from the specified public well field); and high (receiving 50% or more of their water from the specified public well field)."


    Maps of water flow in Toms River

  • This link is to the summary report on the Case-Control Study.


    Wagner College Poster Project

    Poster Project

    In September of 2001, Teach members gave presentations at Ocean County College to students from Wagner College, which is located in Staten Island, N.Y., on the childhood cancer and environmental factors associated with Toms River, N.J. As part of their final grade, the students had to make posters for the subject area that they were studying. Subject areas varied, for example one area may be the safe drinking water standards. The students did a lot of research, attended meetings here in Toms River, and overall prepared well for this public presentation in December 2001 held at Wagner College.

  • For more information on Wagner College Poster Project please use this link.


  • Several important meetings are scheduled, for further details look under "Local Events" on the sidebar or click on this link.
  • The previous cover page can be found under "RESOURCES", Previous Month's Cover Pages.