Residents Near Two Asbestos Plants at Health Risk
SALT LAKE CITY - A recent research by a Utah Department of Health study says that neighbors of two plants those were making asbestos containing products are nearly 50 percent more likely to get lung cancer than residents living any other parts of the state.
The plants were on the southwest side of the city. One facility made a popular insulation and the other a soil additive. They were were closed in the 1980s.
The researchers identified about 70,000 people who lived in the 2-mile radius around both vermiculite processing plants with the help of data collected from the U.S. census and the Utah Cancer Registry. Then they traced the cancer incidence over 28 years among those people. The study showed that the rate of respiratory cancer was much higher than elsewhere in the state.
"The number of cases of respiratory cancer in the area was significantly higher than other areas of the state, but cases of the specific cancer directly linked to asbestos - mesothelioma - were significantly lower," said Wayne Ball, the lead epidemiologist with the state Department of Health.
Inhabitants in the 2-mile radius of the plants had 1,057 cases of respiratory cancer during the years of the study whereas it was only 715 for the residents in the other areas of the state.
Anyway, the workers at the plants are the people most at risk however, their data was not available.
"All we were able to do was just a population study and basically draw a circle around these sites," Ball said. He added that other factors like smoking also could have caused the cancers.
State, local and federal health officials are now trying to find former employees of these plants in order to ensure they know about the health hazards.