Cincinnati Enquirer, May 26, 2006

Bayer/Lanxess: Addyston cancer rate 'troubling'

State study shows cases are 76% over the expected rate

ADDYSTON - Cancer incidence in this village, where a plastics plant has released chemicals for decades, is considerably higher than the expected rate, an Ohio Department of Health study shows.

Health officials say they don't have enough information to say why those cases are occurring. Staff from the Hamilton County General Health District will conduct a follow-up study to get more information, health commissioner Tim Ingram said. That study should be complete by October.

"We must take the time to understand what's occurring here," he said. "This study does not rule in Lanxess, and it does not rule it out." Chemicals released by plastics maker Lanxess Corp. and its predecessors, which include Bayer and Monsanto, have long been a concern for residents.

From 1996 to 2003, 55 cancer cases were recorded in the village of about 1,000, according to the state cancer registry. A population that size would normally have 31.2 cases in that period. Ingram called the cancer rate troubling.

Health officials from the state and Hamilton County presented the report to about 100 people Thursday night at the VFW hall. The report found lung cancer in the community to be about four times higher than normal. Colorectal cancer was about three times higher than normal. Kidney and mouth cancers were three to four times higher than normal.

Last year, the Ohio EPA said residents near the plastics plant had a 50 percent greater chance of developing cancer than the general population if they breathed in its fumes for decades. Lanxess officials disputed those findings; they also said they were making improvements to address the unintentional release of chemicals into the air.

The two chemicals of most concern are acrylonitrile and 1,3-butadiene. Both are associated with cancers in humans. Acrylonitrile is associated with a higher risk of lung cancer.

Tobacco use is the greatest risk for lung cancer, but numerous factors, including lifestyle and family history, all play into a person's cancer risk. The follow-up study will look at those other risk factors, Ingram said. Health officials will also work with residents to help reduce their cancer risk.

Mayor Dan Pillow said: "There is no shame. There is no scourge here. This is about fact-finding. We're going to try to identify what's causing these cases as best we can."

For now, Ingram said, the focus will remain on Addyston, although concerns were voiced Thursday night that data should be collected in neighboring Sayler Park. Residents and elected officials formed an environmental task force to study the community's cancer incidence.

The state and Hamilton County officials have installed air-monitoring equipment. County officials will also test "spike" emissions and indoor air quality in the community as well.An elementary school was closed last year because of concerns about emissions from the plastics plant.

Lanxess plant manager Sandy Marshall said the company invested $4 million last year and this year to reduce emissions. Further upgrades are planned, he said. (PEGGY O'FARRELL)

May 27, 2006

High cancer rates discovered in town where chemicals released

Addyston, Ohio- Cancer rates are considerably higher than normal in this southwest Ohio village where a plastics plant has released chemicals for decades, an Ohio Department of Health study shows.

Hamilton County health officials said they don't have conclusive information that explains why the cases are occurring and that a followup study will be completed by October. Health Commissioner Tim Ingram said the study did not implicate or exonerate plastics maker Lanxess Corp.

Residents in the community, about 20 miles west of Cincinnati, have long been concerned that emissions and chemicals released by Lanxess and its predecessors, Bayer and Monsanto, posed health threats. The Three Rivers School District closed an elementary school across the street from the plant last year.

Addyston, which has a population of about 1,000, reported 55 cases of cancer from 1996 to 2003. A population that size would ordinarily diagnose about 31 cases in the same period.

The report also found rates of lung cancer were about four times higher in the village than would typically be expected. Rates of colorectal cancer, kidney and mouth cancers were all at least three times higher than normal. Last year, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency concluded the cancer risk for residents was 50 times greater because of two chemicals emitted into the air from the plant. Lanxess disputed those findings and said that it has invested millions of dollars into reducing emissions. The company said it is working to address the unintentional release of chemicals into the air.

The followup study will take into account the chemicals as well as other risk factors for cancer. State and county health officials also have installed equipment to monitor air quality in Addyston and plan to test the community's indoor air quality as well.