Studies Find Higher Cancer Rates Near Santa Susana Lab
Residents living within two miles of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Simi Hills may have been exposed to toxic chemicals from nuclear research and rocket engine testing, and have slightly higher rates of cancer compared with people who live farther from the lab, according to two studies released Thursday, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Rates were higher for cancers linked to radiation and chemical exposure, but researchers said the studies do not prove conclusively that contamination from the lab caused the cancer or other illnesses in the community.
However, the studies represent "the strongest evidence to date" that residents near the lab were exposed to hazardous chemicals that increased their risk of developing cancer.
The studies, by researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles, found:
- Current residents within two miles of the lab could be exposed to chemicals through groundwater wells or by eating vegetables grown in contaminated soil or inhaling contaminants from future rocket engine tests;
- Latino residents appear to be most affected by the higher cancer rates;
- Bladder cancer and melanoma had the highest increases;
- Lung and immune system cancer rates were slightly elevated above normal levels; and
- Breast and colon cancer rates were at normal levels.
Officials from Boeing, which owns the lab, said they could not comment on the studies until they review the research more closely (Cavanaugh, Los Angeles Daily News, 2/3). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.