NIOSH Study of Endicott TCE Spill Moving Forward With Funding

Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-NY, announced yesterday he received official notice Tuesday night that the NIOSH study he worked to establish last year in order to examine trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure and cancer rates among 28,000 IBM employees who worked at the company's Endicott site since 1964 is moving forward as expected with adequate funding. A representative from the CDC, which oversees NIOSH, informed Hinchey that a NIOSH update report released Tuesday that expressed concerns over funding of the study was misleading and that the study is proceeding as planned.

"I am very pleased that the NIOSH study is continuing to move forward as expected and that funding for it is not in jeopardy," Hinchey said. "This study will provide us with valuable statistics about the threat that TCE exposure and contamination has on our local communities. It is critical to our efforts to ensure that the public is protected from the chemical and that polluters are held accountable for its misuse. I look forward to my ongoing work with NIOSH to ensure that the study continues to move forward at a steady pace."

Hinchey last year used his position on the House Appropriations Committee to secure congressional approval of a measure that directs NIOSH to use funds from within its existing budget to conduct the study, which is estimated to cost $3.1 million and would potentially show a link between increased cancer rates and TCE exposure. Subsequent to Congress' approval of the NIOSH study language, Hinchey's office received assurances from CDC that the agency would respond positively to Congress' request and conduct the study in Endicott.

In a Tuesday night e-mail to Hinchey's office, assuring the congressman that everything was on track with the study and the funding for it, CDC wrote: "CDC has begun the study--with protocol development and external peer review--and will continue with data collection and analysis for the next 2 years. CDC is spending approximately $400,000 with FY 08 funds. CDC will spend what is required next year to fund the data collection and analysis part of the study."

Hinchey noted that TCE, which has made its way into 400 to 500 homes in his congressional district as a result of vapor intrusion, is widely recognized as a probable carcinogen. Six years ago, EPA conducted a Health Risk Assessment, endorsed by its Science Advisory Board, which determined TCE to be 5 to 65 times more toxic than originally thought. The New York State Department of Health and ATSDR have released results from a series of health statistics review studies of residents exposed to TCE--studies Hinchey said he fought to initiate--that reveal increased rates of certain types of cancers, specifically kidney and testicular cancers, and congenital heart defects for people and infants living in the area of the Endicott TCE spill.

In 2003, Hinchey had language included in a federal bill to have ATSDR conduct its health-risk study. The congressman also has pressed NYSDH to develop its own risk standards. Earlier this year, Hinchey introduced the Toxic Chemical Exposure (TCE) Reduction Act, which he said is designed to end the Bush administration's stall tactics and require EPA to quickly develop health safety standards that will help improve the government's ability to protect public health from TCE.

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