Agency Findings: NASA Buildings in Ohio Didn’t Cause Cancer

October 10, 2008

A federal health agency determined that two buildings at the NASA Glenn Research Center did not cause cancer among its past and present employees, a survey released October 8 shows.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released the findings in response to concerns raised by a union over the cancer rate among employees.

Workers weren’t satisfied with the findings, said Dennis Pehotsky, a safety representative from the Lewis Engineers and Scientists Association. He planned to pursue the issue further.

“We’re thoroughly disgusted with the answers,” Pehotsky said.

The federal agency’s medical officer, Dr. Elena Page, conducted a survey of 301 current and former employees. There were 65 cases of cancer reported since 1985, including nine cases that occurred before the employees started working in the buildings.

There are more than 400 employees at any given time who work in the two buildings, which are used for office and administrative work and overlook Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Thirty of the cancer cases were reported by employees on the third floor of the Developmental Engineering Building, which was built in 1964.

Page determined that the number of cases and many types of cancer among the employees didn’t indicate a common exposure to a hazardous substance. There were 20 types reported, including breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers.

Cancer clusters usually consist of one type of cancer, Page said in a report.

NASA Glenn has tested for asbestos, lead and water quality over the past 25 years, and based on Page’s report, there is no need for further testing, said Woodrow Whitlow Jr., the center’s director.

The two buildings will be emptied by next September as part of the center’s plan to build a new combined office building, Whitlow said. The buildings will likely be torn down.

Pehotsky accused NASA Glenn leaders of deciding to close the buildings only after concerns were raised by the union, which represents more than 1,500 scientists, clerks and other workers.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.