Community Health Studies

The potential impacts to the surrounding community from past nuclear operations at the ETEC facility have been studied. These studies include offsite sampling, exposure assessments, and community health studies.

Exposure Assessments

Exposure assessments at SSFL consist of evaluating data from existing studies to determine if there are any health effects to the communities surrounding SSFL. These evaluations did not include taking any new samples. The three environmental assessments at SSFL are:

ATSDR Public Health Assessment

The Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is a part of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which is operated by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The ATSDR received a request to conduct a public health assessment at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). ASTDR held meetings with the public in the Fall of 1999 to identify health concerns and completed a preliminary site evaluation in December 1999.

The preliminary site evaluation executive summary states that "preliminary results of the exposure pathway analyses for air, ground water and surface water, and soil and sediment indicate that it is unlikely that people living in communities near the site have been exposed to substances from the site at levels that would have resulted in adverse health effects".

The ASTDR recommended further studies to assess potential off site exposure pathways to contaminants, update the prior state cancer registry studies, and perform public outreach. As a result, ATSDR contracted with the Eastern Research Group (ERG), who in turn issued a sole source contract to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) to assess potential off site exposure. Click here, for more information about the UCLA offsite exposure studies.

Cancer Studies

Local, State and Federal agencies have performed or sponsored community cancer studies to determine whether any elevated cancer rates exist in the communities surrounding SSFL.

These studies include:

1) California DTSC Cancer Study Reviews

In October 1999, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released its report of an inquiry into the California Department of Health Services (DHS) Cancer Registry Studies. DTSC found no evidence of elevated cancer rates surrounding SSFL. The final report was released in August 1999.

DTSC also hired an expert panel of epidemiologists to review three earlier state cancer studies. The expert panel report was released in June 1999. The expert panel concluded "Whereas there were some differences in the geographic areas, time periods, case definitions, and level of signifigance used in these three studies, the combined evidence from all three does not indicate an increased rate of cancer incidence in the regions examined."

2) Tri-Counties Cancer Studies

In April 1997, the Tri-Counties Regional Cancer Registry released the results of cancer rates in the communities in Ventura County surrounding SSFL . The report concluded, "My conclusion from this simple preliminary analysis is that residents of the study area seem to have cancer incidence risk which is similar to that of the other residents of the Tri-Counties region, except for leukemia in women which is significantly lower, and cancer of the lung & bronchus which is higher."

In October 2006, the Tri-Counties Cancer Surveillance Program conducted a study of census tract 75.03, encompassing a 2-3 mile radius surrounding SSFL in Ventura County. The conclusion, which is documented in the letter below is that the “Based on this analysis I conclude that occurrence of newly diagnosed invasive cancers in census tract 75.03 in Ventura County, does not show any unusual pattern and has actually decreased by 7.5 percent from 1988 through 2004."

3) California DHS Cancer Registry Studies

Two studies were performed by the Environmental Epidemiology Unit of the California Department of Health Services (DHS). DHS concluded that "These analyses suggest that people living near the SSFL are not at increased risk for developing cancers associated with radiation exposure." (DHS 1992)

4) University of Michigan School of Public Health Study

Information about the University of Michigan School of Public Health 2007 study on cancer incidence in the community can be found here.