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Report: chemical found at Toms river superfund site didn't cause cancer.

A chemical found in the treated water of a Superfund site in Toms River, New Jersey believed to be associated with a childhood cancer cluster did not cause cancer in rats but the laboratory animals did show some abnormalities when exposed to the chemical, the results of a federal study show.

The findings, detailed in a federal report held no weight with families with children stricken with cancer or other ailments over the past three decades. While the study may have been solid scientifically, it was not based on what was in the water when chemical companies were active in Toms River, the families said.

"What was tested was not what we were drinking," said Linda Gillick, chairwoman of the Citizen's Action Committee on Childhood Cancer Cluster. Gillick's son, Michael, now 36, as a child was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system.

"You took what you had," she said to members of the National Toxicology Program who presented the results at the Ocean County Library in Toms River. "Your results will never ever appease the families or those of us who have been involved in the investigation from Day One."

Bruce Molholt, a consultant with Gillick's group, said scientists should have studied the main chemical used by Union Carbide Corp. at the time instead of the byproduct that was disposed of at the Toms River farm, leading to contaminated drinking water for those in the vicinity.

The report, "NTP Technical Report on the Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Study of Styrene-Acrylonitrile Trimer in F344N Rats," was specific in saying that SAN Trimer did not cause cancer in the test rats but it stopped short of saying it caused the abnormalities affecting the nervous system of the rats, the urinary bladders of female rats and the bone marrow of male rats. Instead, it said those incidences of nerve, bladder and bone marrow abnormalities "increased with exposure to SAN Trimer."

Reich Farm was named a federal Superfund site in 1983, a dozen years after drums and trenches filled with chemicals from Union Carbide Corp. were found on a 3-acre piece of the farm leased by an independent waste hauler.

By the time the contamination had been discovered, the chemical plume had reached private wells of nearby residences and wells that supplied community water in Toms River.

Cleanup included treating the groundwater and returning it to the ground. During the treatment process, however, scientists detected in the treated water an unknown compound that wasn't identified until 1997 as styrene-acrylonitrile trimer, a byproduct of the production of acrylonitrile styrene plastics.

Part of a public review of the study in 2011, Gillick, expressed her concern that the study included testing only one of the three batches of SAN Trimer provided by Union Carbide.

The study, which started in 2000, used 400 rats of a species that is susceptible to the same cancers and humans, said Dr. Manta Behl, a toxicologist with the National Toxicology Program.

The tests were conducted on pregnant and lactating rats to study the potential risks on pregnant women and nursing mothers. The study was done for two years--the lifetime of the rat, which is also the equivalent of an 80- or 85-year-old human, Behl said.

Source: MaryAnn Spoto, NJ Advance Media

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Publication:Hazardous Waste Superfund Alert
Geographic Code:1U2NJ
Date:Feb 25, 2015
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