Brain cancer deaths possibly job--linked

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Section: SCIENCE NEWS OF THE WEEK
Calling them the "largest single series of presumably occupationally related brain cancers" in medical history, federal health investigators reported last week that 18 brain cancer deaths among workers at a Union Carbide petrochemical plant in Texas City, Tex., apparently were job-related.

The report, presented at a New York Academy of Sciences meeting on brain tumors and the chemical industry, is part of a continuing two-year study initiated by Union Carbide and carried out by scientists at the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. The researchers did not elaborate on actual causes of the cancers, but noted that the deaths, which occurred between 1956 and 1980, were four to five times as many as those expected for the Texas county. A spokeswoman for Union Carbide said, however, "We have no reason to believe there is any correlation between these tumors and occupational exposures. ... Nor does the report make any specific connection" between jobs and the disease, pointing out that the workers had different jobs in separate parts of the plant.

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