Study fails to find cancer link in Anne Arundel firefighters
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A yearlong study looking into the
possibility that Anne Arundel county firefighters got cancer from
exposure to chemicals used during training, ended inconclusively
with a researcher recommending a more comprehensive study.
But state officials said additional study might end just as
inconclusively.
Arundel firefighters, some of whom are in hospitals or have died
of cancer, trace their concerns to the department's use of donated
fuels during routine training in Millersville decades ago. Some
contained chemicals called PCBs that were banned by the federal
government as possible carcinogens.
In a 43-page report released Thursday, Johns Hopkins University
epidemiologist Jonathan Samet said such a link might be hard to
prove.
He said, though, that the concerns of firefighters' family
members should be answered "in the best way science can answer
them," adding that such a study could cost hundreds of thousands
of dollars. Samet's study looked at 17 living firefighters who had
been diagnosed with cancer. About half had some form of skin
cancer.
The state's decision disappointed one firefighter's wife.
"I wonder how they'd feel if it was their husband that was
dying of cancer," Cindy Fowler of Pasadena, whose husband David is
battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma, told The (Annapolis) Capital.
Each spring in the 1970s, the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
trucked hundreds of gallons of PCB-laden transformer fuel to the
fire academy, where it was burned in a structure called "the
pit," which looked like an aboveground pool.
"I remember Jack coming home and saying they had the nastiest
damn crap they had to burn in the pit because they were getting it
for free from BGE," Ginger Griffith, whose husband was a training
officer at the academy and died of cancer in 1999, recalled last
year.
Researchers estimated 500 to 1,000 firefighters from various
jurisdictions - including Prince George's County, Howard County,
the Naval Academy and Annapolis - trained when PCBs were used.
Records that would yield a complete list are incomplete because
they have been lost or destroyed over time.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)