PORTLAND, Oregon – Oregon health officials say they’ve discovered a small, statistically significant cluster of bladder cancer diagnoses in two North Portland neighborhoods near a glassmaking business.
The Oregonian reports it’s the first time the state’s investigation of community concerns about poisonous heavy metals in the air has uncovered a noteworthy cluster.
Between 1999 and 2003, doctors diagnosed 12 people with bladder cancers in North Portland, more than twice the number state researchers expected to find.
During the 15 years for which it has data, the state found a total of 22 bladder cancers diagnosed among people living in two Census tracts immediately surrounding Uroboros Glass. The state expected to find 15 cases.
Bladder cancer is associated with the oral ingestion of arsenic, which the company has said it formerly used.
State health official Katrina Hedberg cautioned against drawing conclusions, saying it isn’t possible to attribute the cancers to any specific exposure.