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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
October 25, 2011

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Cancer Incidence in Garfield Neighborhood Similar to Expected Rates


DHSS will continue to monitor cancer incidence in the community



An analysis of cancer cases in a Garfield neighborhood where groundwater was contaminated with hexavalent chromium found that the number of cases of cancers associated with exposure to this toxic form of chromium is similar to what would be expected based on statewide rates.


“This is reassuring news for the community,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd.  “The Department’s review found no unusual trends or significant increases in cancer, but we will continue to monitor because it can take decades for cancer to develop.”


The Health Consultation, requested by the community, looked at the number of lung, stomach, oral and esophageal cancer cases among 3,600 residents between 1993 and 2008 and compared it with the number of cases of those cancers that would have been expected over a 16-year period in the affected neighborhood.


Although the Department analysis found the incidence of stomach and lung cancers in males was higher than expected, the difference was statistically insignificant. Both cancers in males were also elevated before a 1983 spill of chromium plating solution.


The analysis began with 1993 because that was a decade after thousands of gallons of chromium plating solution was discharged from a tank at E. C. Electroplating Co., contaminating the groundwater that flows under 600 homes surrounding the now closed plant. In June 1993, hexavalent chromium-contaminated groundwater and crystals were discovered in Garfield Fire House #3, which was subsequently taken out of service.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working with the community for several years on testing and remediation. Last month, the EPA added the Garfield Groundwater Contamination Site to its Superfund National Priorities List.


In May 2010, the Department and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) issued a health warning to residents near the plant after EPA testing in 16 of 160 homes with basement flooding, leaking or other water issues found dust contaminated with hexavalent chromium.


Exposure to hexavalent chromium may be associated with lung and other cancers as well as health conditions such as irritation to the lining of the nose, asthma and other respiratory problems, skin rashes, anemia, and irritation and ulcers in the stomach and small intestine.


“If anyone has health concerns, they should be evaluated by their family physician,” said Dr. Christina Tan, state epidemiologist and assistant commissioner of the Division of Epidemiology, Environmental and Occupational Health.


Copies of the analysis can be obtained at

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