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County Mortality and Cancer Incidence in Relation to Living near Two Former Nuclear Materials Processing Facilities in PennsylvaniaAn Update

Boice, John D. Jr*†; Bigbee, William L.‡; Mumma, Michael T.*; Tarone, Robert E.*; Blot, William J.*†

Health Physics:
doi: 10.1097/01.HP.0000327664.79349.d4

A previous county mortality study of populations living near two nuclear materials processing and fabrication facilities in Westmoreland and Armstrong counties in Pennsylvania (1950–1995) was extended through 2004. Noncancer mortality (1996–2004) and cancer incidence (1990–2004) were also evaluated. Among the Westmoreland and Armstrong populations, 10,547 cancer deaths occurred during the period 1996 through 2004 and the relative risk (RR) based on comparisons with six demographically similar counties in western Pennsylvania was 0.97, that is, almost exactly as expected, and no different from our previously published analyses covering the years 1950–1995. The results based on cancer incidence data were very similar to those based on cancer mortality data. Over the years 1990 though 2004, 39,350 incident cancers were reported among residents of Armstrong and Westmoreland counties and the RR based on the six demographically similar counties was 0.99, that is, almost exactly as expected. The number of deaths from nonmalignant conditions was 36,565 and very close to the number expected (RR 1.01). Overall, no increases in cancer or nonmalignant diseases could be attributed to living in counties with nuclear materials processing and fabrication facilities.

Author Information

* International Epidemiology Institute, 1455 Research Boulevard, Suite 550, Rockville, MD 20850; Vanderbilt University, Department of Medicine and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville, TN 37232; University of Pittsburgh, Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute/Hillman Cancer Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

For correspondence contact: J. D. Boice, Jr., International Epidemiology Institute, 1455 Research Blvd., Suite 550, Rockville, MD 20850, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 10 July 2008)

©2009Health Physics Society