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STUDY INDICATES NO LINK BETWEEN SOLVENT, CANCER DEATHS AT HILL

SHARE STUDY INDICATES NO LINK BETWEEN SOLVENT, CANCER DEATHS AT HILL

Although it found more deaths from two types of cancer than expected, a joint study project found no link between cancer rates among employees at Hill Air Force Base and a degreaser solvent used by the workers.

Those results were reported Friday after a two-day conference at Hill that included representatives from the Air Force, American Federation of Government Employees and the National Cancer Institute.The representatives met to review the findings of a Cancer Institute study of more than 14,000 employees who worked at the base for at least one year in the mid-1950s. The study followed the workers and reported deaths through 1982.

Based on the preliminary study, "a significant excess of cancer deaths has not been found among workers exposed to trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical degreasing solvent," the Air Force concluded.

The analysis found more deaths than expected from two types of cancer, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, particularly among workers employed in fabric cleaning and parachute repair. But the study termed the total number of deaths small.

"This study has not found any evidence to suggest that there were any excess deaths due to exposure to TCE. While there were some increases in specific rare types of cancer, the investigators would not implicate or exonerate solvents as a cause of these increases," said Col. Phil Brown, chief of Hill's bioenvironmental engineering services.

"We believe the study so far is inconclusive and must be continued to provide definitive answers to all workers exposed to chemicals on the job," said Bill Shoell, president of the federation's Local 1592 at Hill.

The representatives concluded the population of workers needs to be studied further to confirm the results or find other relationships between exposure and disease after looking at the workers who have died since 1982.

A final report from the Cancer Institute, which will be available for public review, is expected in about four months.