Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Primary biliary cirrhosis more prevalent around toxic waste sites in NYC


Significant cluster found on Staten Island

According to a new study, exposure to toxins from hazardous waste sites may be a significant risk factor for developing primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). Published in the March 2006 issue of Hepatology, researchers found significant clusters of the disease near Superfund toxic waste sites (SFS) and that the majority of patients in New York City who need liver transplants because of PBC, reside near SFS. Hepatology is published on behalf of the society by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and is available online via Wiley InterScience at

PBC is an uncommon liver disease of unknown cause, though it reportedly appears in geographic clusters. Researchers, led by Aftab Ala, M.D. of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, examined the prevalence and potential clustering of PBC near New York City’s most toxic waste sites, which are state-designated SFS.

The researchers collected zip code data on 172 patients in New York City in need of orthotopic liver transplant (OLT) between 1995 and 2003 due to either PBC or primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). They compared the patients’ zip codes to zip codes of known SFS in the city. Of the city’s 174 zip codes, 89 included or bordered SFS and 85 did not.

The researchers then calculated the expected prevalence of PBC-OLT and PSC-OLT, adjusting for demographic characteristics. They compared the mean standardized prevalence ratios in zip codes containing or adjacent to a SFS to the remaining zip codes. Lastly, they utilized SaTScan, a statistical software package, to detect specific clusters.

"The prevalence ratio of PBC-OLT, not PSC-OLT, was significantly higher in zip codes containing or adjacent to SFS," the authors report. The standardized prevalence ratio of PBC-OLT cases near SFS was statistically significantly higher than in zip codes that did not have, nor border with, a toxic site. Meanwhile, the standardized prevalence ratio of PSC-OLT cases near SFS was not statistically different from zip codes without a toxic site nearby. The density of SFS and the prevalence ratio of PBC-OLT were both highest in the borough of Staten Island, while Manhattan had the lowest values for both.

The cluster-detection software uncovered five clusters of PBC-OLT. One was on Staten Island, two were in Brooklyn, and two in Queens. SFS near these clusters were contaminated by volatile organic compounds, like benzene and toluene, and chlorinated hydrocarbons, like tri- and tetra-chloroethylene. The cluster on Staten Island was statistically significant, and located near a SFS contaminated with volatile aromatic hydrocarbons and trichloroethylene. "This is the first epidemiological study to show a statistically significant clustering of PBC patients near known sources of environmental toxins and one of relatively few studies linking proximity to SFS to a specific disease," the authors write. Though the exact mechanism by which proximity to toxins may increase PBC patient exposure is not clear, the authors suggest inhalation is the likely method. Still, confounding factors may play a role, such as socioeconomics that influence where people live.

"Our observations further support the hypothesis that environmental toxin exposure is a risk factor for PBC," the authors conclude. They urge researchers in other locations to further investigate the association.

David Greenberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>