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Independent Health Studies

A study of cancer rates within a 15-mile radius of Brookhaven National Laboratory found no relationship between Brookhaven Lab and cancer.

According to a 1998 report by the Suffolk County Environmental Task Force on the Laboratory, “cancer rates of all types of cancers [the task force] studied are not elevated near BNL” for the years 1979-93. Task Force Chair Roger Grimson, a biostatistician and an associate professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, concluded in a Newsday article at that time, “There is no link between Brookhaven National Lab and cancer.

Regarding breast cancer, the study found that, compared to the rest of Long Island, rates were rising significantly, and more quickly, on the Island’s East End, on both the North and South Forks. As Newsday reported: “Concerning breast cancer, Grimson said, the study does not implicate Brookhaven National Laboratory or any other particular facility or cause and noted that the breast cancer rate in the area immediately surrounding the lab is lower than on the North and South Forks.”

Executive Summary

Similar results came from several investigations by local and state agencies looking into rhabdomyosarcoma, a fast-growing, highly malignant tumor that accounts for over half of the soft tissue sarcomas in children. No links to Brookhaven Lab were found. In 2002, Newsday reported that “An analysis of rhabdomyosarcoma rates by the state health department has found that the rate in central Suffolk, where the laboratory is located, does not differ significantly from rates in eastern and western Suffolk, and that Suffolk's overall rate does not differ significantly from the rest of the state.

An assessment of cancer in Brookhaven Lab workers conducted by the New York State Department of Health in 2001 concluded that the overall distribution of cancers in past and present Laboratory employees for whom data were available is similar to the patterns of cancers found in three comparison populations: residents of upstate New York, those living in Nassau, and those residing in Suffolk.

“Of particular note,” commented the author of the assessment report, Maria Schymura, Director of the New York State Department of Health Cancer Registry, is the fact that solid cancers that could be the result of radiation exposure “were not proportionally elevated” in the Brookhaven Lab population.


Last Modified: May 16, 2008