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Drake Chemical Workers' Health Registry: coping with community tension over toxic exposures.

Leviton LC; Marsh GM; Talbott E; Pavlock D; Callahan C
Am J Public Health 1991 Jun; 81(6):689-693
General issues and strategies for dealing with community tensions associated with a Superfund site were discussed using Drake Chemical Company, a Superfund site located in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania as an example. Workers at the facility had been exposed to beta- naphthylamine (91598) (BNA), benzidine (92875), and other known or suspected carcinogens before it closed it 1981. Tensions developed in Lock Haven out of fear of exposure to BNA and benzidine and economic concerns in the business community that attention to the Drake problem would drive away potential investors, especially since more than 30% of the Lock Haven work force was unemployed. The economic concerns were heightened when another nearby chemical factory that also used BNA and benzidine shut down. A program for providing medical surveillance for both companies employees and their families was developed and implemented. This led to creation of the Drake Chemical Workers Health Registry (DCWHR) which received funding from the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry. The program featured general health surveillance and free screening for bladder cancer and involved a community advisory board, a workers' advisory committee, and notification of the medical community. The program was designed to be neutral, avoiding involvement in the lawsuits brought by the former workers against the chemical companies. An intensive media campaign was conducted to alert all former employees living within a 50 mile radius of Lock Haven and to encourage participation in the program. Among the former employees, 81% were currently participating in the program. Only 7% absolutely refused. Three bladder cancer cases were detected. Twenty six participants had abnormal screening results and were being monitored closely. The authors conclude that the DCWHR has successfully coped with community concerns over Drake Chemical Company and obtained a high participation in the program. Recommendations for alleviating community concerns in similar situations were discussed.
NIOSH-Publication; Amines; Chemical-industry-workers; Health-hazards; Surveillance-programs; Neoplastic-agents; Bladder-cancer; Psychological-factors; Occupational-exposure; Aromatic-hydrocarbons
Laura C. Leviton, PhD, Department of Health Services Administration, Graduate School of Public Health, Room 230, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261
91-59-8; 92-87-5
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
Source Name
American Journal of Public Health
Performing Organization
University of Pittsburgh
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division