No Evidence Of Cancer Cluster In Woodridge

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The Department of Health has rejected claims made today in The West Australian newspaper that there is a cancer cluster in Woodridge in the Shire of Gingin.

Acting Executive Director Public Health Dr Andy Robertson said the Department investigated the concerns two years ago and found no evidence that this was the case.

"Woodridge had 34 cancer notifications between 1987 and 2008 (between one and five a year), and while these numbers are increasing with the population, they were insufficient to indicate any trend in risk,” he said.

"The study focused on the postcode area 6041, which included the localities of Gabbadah, Guilderton, Redfield Park, Wilbinga and Woodridge.

"The relative incidence of cancers in the whole of the Gingin shire was 1.05 for males (statistically similar to the whole State) and 0.71 for females (lower than the whole State)."

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Dr Robertson said that the reference in the article to the World Health Organization guideline for nitrate being lower than 10 parts per million, was also wrong.

“This measurement was not for nitrate, but for the nitrogen component on nitrate which is significantly smaller (23 per cent of the total weight) and therefore not comparable to the current guidelines.

“Since 1993 WHO has used the level of 50 parts per million for nitrate, the same as the figure used in Australia as set by the National Health and Medical Research Council, for the protection of infants under three months of age.

“The NHMRC also recommends against the consumption of water by the general public if it exceeds 100 parts per million.

“The latest round of scheme water testing by the Water Corporation has shown nitrate levels in the Woodridge area are well below current guidelines and the water is safe to drink.”

The Department of Health recommends that people do not drink untreated groundwater.

Dr Robertson said the article had created unnecessary alarm in the community and the Department of Health had requested that the newspaper print a retraction in tomorrow’s edition.

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