DOE Press Release

DOE Contact: Carol Morrison (516) 344-3424
BNL Contact: Kara Villamil (516) 344-2345

Issued 1/29/98




UPTON, NY - The New York State Cancer Registry will soon begin compiling preliminary cancer rates among the 21,263 people who have worked at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory since 1947.

The Cancer Registry will begin by cross-referencing the names of former and current BNL workers with the names in its database of all New Yorkers diagnosed with cancer between 1979 and 1993, the latest year for which data are available.

The Cancer Registry will then calculate rates for all types of cancer in BNL workers who were alive and living in New York during that period, and compare them with rates from Long Island and the entire state. The results should be available in mid-1998.

"While this assessment is not a formal epidemiological study, it will give us an indication of general cancer trends in this population," said Dean Helms, executive manager of DOE's Brookhaven Group. "We should be able to see if there are any significant deviations from average cancer rates found on Long Island and in New York."

The assessment is in addition to the yearly health surveillance of the current BNL work force that has been performed by DOE since 1992. Those studies have shown that today's Brookhaven employees are, on average, healthier than the norm. But no study has ever examined the larger population of all those who have ever worked at BNL.

Preparations for the assessment began in 1996 after an employee request. DOE and BNL then began the task of creating a database of current and former employees. That database was then provided to DOE's Office of Epidemiologic Studies, which will turn it over to the New York State Cancer Registry next week.

Helms stressed that the assessment will not correlate cancer cases with employees' work histories, including exposure to radiation. But, he said, a full epidemiological study could be considered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health if the assessment's results indicate that further study is warranted.

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