Death rate no different for chemical workers

Dec 14, 2007

The life expectancy of former workers at the Ivon Watkins-Dow chemical plant in New Plymouth is no different to the general population, according to a study funded by the Dow Chemical Company.

Ivon Watkins-Dow, which is now called Dow Agrosciences, made the herbicide 245-T from 1962 to 1987 and the impact of the chemical on workers and the residents of Paritutu has been much studied and disputed.

The general mortality study by Otago University released yesterday has so far only examined the life expectancy of workers, while other studies have covered residents. This study is also examining blood from 300 workers and results of that analysis are expected by March or April next year.

In 2005 a study found that people who lived close to the plant between 1962 and 1987 were likely to have dioxin levels on average four times higher than the general public.

Critics have said the study did not reveal the true extent of the problem.

Dr David McBride of Otago University’s Department of Preventive and Social Medicine said his research examined workers employed at the plant from January 1969.

It showed there was no significant increased risk of death from any cause, including cancer.

Dr McBride said the main causes of death were heart disease, at 35 per cent, and cancer 31 per cent.

Dec 14, 2007  | NEWS-2007-M12-12-001 | | NZPA


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