More than 18 years later, Hamilton County’s Fernald Feed Materials Production Center is in the news again. A new study found a correlation between higher rates of cancer mortality and hourly workers, with some evidence of radiation causing intestinal cancer.
The study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found salaried workers fared much better than hourly workers, and all-cause mortality was below expectations for them despite increased malignancies in blood, bone marrow, spleen, lymph nodes and thymus cells.
Hourly workers weren’t so lucky, according to the study. They had above-average cancer mortality rates in comparison to the rest of the U.S. population, but tests only provided evidence for a connection between hourly workers and intestinal cancer.
Previous studies also found a link between non-malignant respiratory disease and exposure to radiation, but the NIOSH study found no such connection.
The NIOSH study followed 6,409 workers who were employed at Fernald for at least 30 days between 1951 and 1985, following them through 2004.
In 1984 an investigation found Fernald was releasing millions of pounds of uranium dust into the atmosphere, causing radioactive contamination in surrounding areas.