Village of Holley, Orleans County, New York
Birth Outcome Review: 1983-2003 and Cancer Incidence Investigation: 1990-2002
Information Sheet - January 2007
The New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) reviewed adverse birth outcomes and cancer incidence for the Village of Holley, Orleans County because of community concerns about potential long-term health effects due to chemical releases from the Diaz Chemical Corporation. Diaz Chemical Corporation manufactured organic chemicals for the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries from 1974 until the facility closed in June 2003.
Health statistics reviews, such as these reviews of birth outcomes and cancer, use existing health data from sources such as birth certificates and health outcome registries to determine whether health outcomes in a particular community are occurring at a higher, lower, or about the same level compared to statewide levels, after taking into account factors such as the age of individuals within the community. This type of review can not explain why elevations or deficits of certain health outcomes exist. This type of review can not prove that a cause and effect relationship exists or does not exist between exposure to chemicals and health outcomes.
Birth Outcome Review
The NYS DOH Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology investigated whether the occurrence of congenital malformations (birth defects), small for gestational age (a measure of poor fetal growth) births, and preterm births (births before 37 weeks gestation) among Village of Holley residents was greater than expected when compared to the occurrence in the rest of New York State, exclusive of New York City. (Gestational age and gestation refer to the length of the time the mother was pregnant.)
- By law, physicians and hospitals in New York State must report birth defects diagnosed within two years of birth to the NYS DOH Congenital Malformations Registry. Health Department researchers evaluated Registry records for birth defects diagnosed from 1983 through 2003 among residents of the Village of Holley.
- The number of children with birth defects was compared to the expected number of children with birth defects. The expected number of children with birth defects was calculated by applying birth defect rates from New York State, exclusive of New York City, to the number of births in the Village of Holley from 1983 through 2003.
- The number of children with birth defects was similar to the number expected. Almost all of the birth defects which did occur did not cluster in time. This suggests that the number of children with birth defects born to Village of Holley residents from 1983 through 2003 was within expected ranges.
Small for Gestational Age & Preterm Births
- Birth weight and length of pregnancy for babies born to women residing in the Village of Holley from 1983 through 2003 were compared to the birth weight and the length of pregnancy for babies born to women in New York State excluding New York City.
- The numbers of small for gestational age and preterm births were compared to the expected numbers and found to be similar. Neither the small for gestational age nor the preterm births clustered in time. This suggests that the numbers of small for gestational age and preterm births among residents of the Village of Holley from 1983 through 2003 were within expected ranges.
Cancer Incidence Investigation
The NYS DOH Cancer Surveillance Program investigated whether the number of cancers among residents of the Village of Holley was unusual. Seventeen of the most common types of cancer were examined among males, and nineteen of the most common types of cancer were examined among females.
- By law, hospitals and physicians in New York State must report all cases of cancer that come under their care to the NYS DOH Cancer Registry. Health department researchers evaluated Cancer Registry records for the years 1990 through 2002 for persons residing in the Village of Holley.
- The numbers of newly diagnosed cancer cases, grouped by sex and cancer location in the body, were compared to the expected numbers of newly diagnosed cancer cases.
- Overall, the total numbers of cancers for males and for females were similar to the numbers of cancers expected based on rates from New York State, exclusive of New York City.
- When individual types of cancer were examined separately among males and females, no single type of cancer showed an excess or deficit compared to the number expected.
- The development of cancer is usually a lengthy process. For many types of cancer, symptoms do not occur until 10 to 30 years after exposure to cancer-causing substances. While this cancer incidence investigation provides insight on the cancer incidence in the Village of Holley through 2002, sufficient time has not yet passed to evaluate cancer incidence for later Diaz chemical releases.
For copies of the full reports and for additional information, please contact Mr. James Bowers, NYS DOH, Bureau of Environmental & Occupational Epidemiology, 518-402-7950 or 1-800-458-1158. For additional information specifically about cancer, please contact Ms. Aura L. Weinstein, Director, Cancer Surveillance Program, NYS DOH, at 518-474-2354.