Modock Road Springs & Village of Victor

Modock Road Springs

In response to a request by area residents and public officials, the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) agreed to conduct a review of cancer and birth outcomes among residents of an area near the Modock Road Springs in the Town of Victor. This review looks at levels of health outcomes among the population of a specific geographic area and provides residents with information about numbers of outcomes in their area compared with expected numbers based on statewide data. This type of review cannot link cause (exposure) and effect (health outcome) and cannot prove that an individual's health problem was caused by an environmental exposure. A report on the review of cancer among residents of the area was released in 2009 (NYS DOH, 2009). The current report describes the review of birth outcomes among babies born to people living in the study area near the Modock Road Springs in the Town of Victor).

The neighborhood within the study area is located above a mile-long area of groundwater contaminated with industrial solvents. Results of an environmental investigation of drinking water and soil vapor intrusion sampling conducted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, in conjunction with the NYS DOH Center for Environmental Health, showed the presence of two completed pathways of human exposure to contaminants in the groundwater in the study area. These pathways included ingestion of contaminated drinking water from private wells and the inhalation of contaminants that had entered homes through soil vapor intrusion. According to the data from the environmental investigation, a limited number of residences were impacted by these completed exposure pathways.

Village of Victor

The New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) conducted a health outcomes review for the Village of Victor because of concerns about health effects from chemicals in the Village water supply before 1990. A health outcomes review examines a particular group of people as a whole to see how it compares to a group not living in the area of concern. It cannot link an environmental exposure to a specific health effect and it cannot tell us anything about individual health problems.

This health review included data as early as 1980 (before there was any evidence of contamination) and as late as 2007. Even though the use of Modock Road Springs as a water source was stopped in 1990 after samples showed chemical contamination, some health effects, like cancer, may take many years to develop. Therefore, we looked at cancer as well as birth outcomes and birth defects for people who used Village water. We compared the number of these health outcomes for people who lived in Victor to people who lived in the rest of the state.

Health Outcomes Review: Birth Outcomes and Cancer

This review found that the levels of adverse birth outcomes diagnosed in children born to residents who lived within the boundaries of the Village of Victor public water system were either less than or about the same as expected. The pattern of specific types of birth defects did not appear unusual. The review of cancer identified an excess of kidney cancer. Additional analysis of the kidney cancer cases found the excess occurred primarily among men, during the time period 1994-2007. Of the individuals diagnosed with kidney cancer, almost one-third did not reside in the study area during the potential exposure period. Important risk factors for kidney cancer, such as smoking, occupation, family history, obesity, and hypertension, could not be assessed.

This type of study cannot determine whether there is a causal link between possible past exposure to TCE from the Village of Victor drinking water and the excess of kidney cancer. In addition, conclusions about most of the health outcomes investigated are limited due to the relatively small population of the exposed area and the small numbers observed for each outcome. Conclusions about the kidney cancer excess among men are limited due to the lack of information about potential individual exposures that may have occurred as a result of living in the Village of Victor public water supply area and lack of individual information about known kidney cancer risk factors such as smoking and occupation. We encourage men and their families who may be concerned to share information from this report with their health care providers.

Additional Information

For copies of the full reports and for additional information, please contact Mr. James Bowers:

Center for Environmental Health
Bureau of Environmental & Occupational Epidemiology
Empire State Plaza-Corning Tower, Room 1203
Albany, New York 12237
(518) 402-7950