October 4, 1995
ADDITIONAL FEDERAL FUNDS AWARDED FOR LA SALLE EUC STUDY
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- The Illinois Department of Public Health has been awarded an additional $100,000 in federal grant money to continue a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure health study of former employees of the LaSalle Electrical Utilities Company (EUC), Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director, today announced.
The joint study with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which began in the fall of 1993 with a health assessment of area residents and former EUC workers, will now examine the possible adverse health effects and cancer incidence that may be related to PCB exposure.
The Department, in cooperation with the University of Illinois at Chicago, will contact former EUC workers to take part in a study scheduled to begin in the spring of 1996 that will include sampling of blood and urine, and a review of their medical history. The study will include an anticipated 250 former EUC workers and 50 area residents who will serve as a control group.
Blood and urine samples will be evaluated for possible effects of PCBs on the immune system, hormone levels and liver functions. Researchers will then look at the participants' possible exposure to PCBs at the plant to try to identify subtle health effects. Cancer mortality rates also will be reviewed.
It is not certain how prolonged exposure to PCBs can affect a person's health, but laboratory tests have found PCBs can cause adverse health effects in animals that include skin irritations and rashes (such as chloracne), liver damage, kidney damage, cancer and damage to the reproductive and immune systems.
The Department has been awarded nearly $390,000 in federal grant money since 1993 to study the effects of PCBs in the LaSalle area. Besides the $100,000 just awarded, ATSDR has committed additional funds for 1996, which will be determined by how much money is needed to complete the study.
A pilot study completed earlier this year found higher than average background concentrations of PCBs in the blood of EUC workers. The 60 workers tested had an average of 15 parts per billion of PCBs in their blood compared with an expected average of 5 parts per billion in unexposed individuals. The study also found a relationship between the length of employment and concentration of PCBs.
EUC discontinued the use of PCBs at the LaSalle site in 1978 and the plant, which began operations in the 1940s, closed in 1981. The site was placed on the National Priorities List (often called the Superfund list) in 1982 because PCBs used in the manufacture of electrical capacitors had spilled or leaked onto the facility's grounds. The federal government incinerated nearly 150,000 tons of PCB contaminated soil excavated from the EUC site and nearby properties between 1988 and 1993.
A public meeting will be held October 12, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Illinois Valley Banquet Center, 920 Second St. in LaSalle, to discuss the findings of the pilot study and the goals of the next phase of the study.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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