Friday, October 17, 2014

Mountaintop removal dust linked to lung cancer, West Virginia University study finds

Dust from mountaintop removal promotes the growth of lung cancer tumors, says a study by West Virginia University researchers published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, Ken Ward reports for the Charleston Gazette.

For the study, dust was collected from communities near mountaintop removal sites in Southern West Virginia, with researchers examining "its effects on human lung cells to try to investigate previous statistical evidence that showed elevated lung cancer in coal-mining communities, even after adjusting for other factors such as smoking," Ward writes.

The study's authors wrote: “A growing body of evidence links living in proximity to (mountaintop removal) activities to greater risk of serious health consequences, including significantly higher reports of cancer. Our finding strengthens previous epidemiological studies linking [mountaintop removal] to increased incidence of lung cancer and supports adoption of prevention strategies and exposure control.”

Researchers "found that chronic exposure to mountaintop removal dust induced cell changes that indicated development of lung cancer," Ward writes. "While the data did not 'indicate tumor initiation,' it did show 'lung tumor promotion and progression' that showed the dust is 'a health concern as a cancer promoter.' The first-of-its-kind experimental study used a dust exposure level roughly equal to what mining community residents might experience over an 8.5-year period." (Read more)

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