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Public Health Rep. 1986 Mar-Apr; 101(2): 201–205.
PMCID: PMC1477799

Childhood leukemia in Woburn, Massachusetts.

Abstract

Possible associations between environmental hazards and the occurrence of childhood leukemia were investigated in Woburn, MA, for the period 1969-79. Residents of Woburn were concerned over what they perceived to be a large number of childhood leukemia cases; at the same time there was extensive publicity about uncontrolled hazardous waste sites in Woburn, which resulted in its being placed on the Superfund list. Many believed that the elevated rate of childhood leukemia was related to these sites or to two city water wells that had been closed in 1979 when they were found to be contaminated by organic chemicals. An occurrence was defined as childhood leukemia when it was diagnosed in a Woburn resident less than 20 years old between 1969 and 1979 and confirmed by review of hospital and pathology records. This investigation confirmed an increase in incidence which was distributed uniformly over the 11-year period. Six of the persons with leukemia were located close to each other in one census tract, 7.5 times the expected number. Parents of the children and of two matched control groups were interviewed about medical history, mother's pregnancy history, school history, and environmental exposures. There were no significant differences between the leukemia victims and persons in the control groups. No leukemia sufferer had contact with a hazardous waste site. While the contaminants of Wells G and H, which had been closed, are not known leukemogens, it is not possible to rule out exposure to this water as a factor, particularly in the eastern Woburn residents.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Austin DF, Karp S, Dworsky R, Henderson BE. Excess leukemia in cohorts of children born following influenza epidemics. Am J Epidemiol. 1975 Jan;101(1):77–83. [PubMed]
  • Smith PG. Current assessment of "case clustering" of lymphomas and leukemias. Cancer. 1978 Aug;42(2 Suppl):1026–1024. [PubMed]
  • Vigliani EC, Forni A. Benzene and leukemia. Environ Res. 1976 Feb;11(1):122–127. [PubMed]

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