Village of Victor-Health Outcomes Review: Birth Outcomes and Cancer

Village of Victor Public Water Supply, Village of Victor; Ontario County, New York

Summary

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.

The health outcomes comparison showed nothing unusual for any of the birth outcomes or cancer in general. One specific finding was noted. An excess of kidney cancer was observed in men, during the time period of 1994-2007.

Although the kinds of chemical compounds that were detected in the Village water supply have been associated with kidney cancer in some other studies, there are many other factors that may also contribute to the development of kidney cancer, such as smoking, occupation, family history, obesity and hypertension. We do not know if these men had any of those risk factors. We encourage men and their families who may be concerned to share this information with their health care providers.

Potential Exposures

In February 1990, sampling of the Modock Road Springs in the Town of Victor identified contamination with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Following this discovery, the use of the springs as a water source for the village water system was stopped. A previous water sample taken in 1981 did not detect any VOC contamination. This suggests exposures related to the village water system may have occurred for a maximum of nine years.

Three VOCs commonly used as industrial solvents were identified in the water system and the groundwater discharging into the Modock Road Springs: trichloroethene (TCE); 1,1,1-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA); and 1,1-dichloroethene (1,1-DCE). During the time these contaminants were present in the water system, people using the village water could have been exposed to these VOCs by drinking the water and breathing vapors during showering, bathing or other household use of the water.

Methods

Information about low birth weight, prematurity and birth defects from 1980-2005 was obtained from birth records and the NYS Congenital Malformations Registry. Birth outcomes were examined separately for 1980-1991 and 1992-2005. Because birth certificates contain a great deal of information about the mother and infant, the analyses of birth outcomes were able to take account of race, education, previous live births, and prenatal care when comparing the study area to NYS (excluding NYC). Information about nineteen types of cancer for women and 17 types for men was obtained for 1980-2007 from the NYS Cancer Registry. To determine whether any differences we detected were statistically significant (unlikely due to chance alone), 95% confidence intervals were calculated.

Results

No type of adverse birth outcome was statistically significantly elevated in any time period. Three categories of birth outcomes, moderately low birth weight, small for gestational age (SGA) and a subset of SGA, term low birth weight, were statistically significantly lower than expected. Total birth defects were also statistically significantly lower than expected during 1983-1991. Total cancers were not significantly elevated, and almost all specific types were not significantly elevated. One type of cancer, kidney cancer, was statistically significantly elevated.

Kidney cancer

The number of kidney cancer cases observed among men and women combined during the overall study period was almost double the expected number of cases (13 observed versus 7 expected). When evaluated within the shorter time frames (1980-1993, 1994-2007), the statistically significant excess occurred only during the later time period, 1994-2007. The elevation was primarily among men. Available residential history information for the men and women diagnosed with kidney cancer showed that about one-third did not reside in the study area during the potential exposure period prior to 1990. We were not able to assess other important risk factors for kidney cancer, such as smoking, occupation, family history, obesity, and hypertension.

Additional Information

New York State staff is available to answer questions and receive comments about this health outcomes review. This report is being released as a draft for public comment. You may send comments by e-mail to beoe@health.state.ny.us or by mail to NYSDOH, Center for Environmental Health--Victor Comments:

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

For copies of the full report and for additional information, please contact Mr. James Bowers, NYS DOH, Center for Environmental Health, Bureau of Environmental & Occupational Epidemiology, (518) 402-7950.

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