The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on September 30, 1997 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, September 30, 1997
Page 10
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AID TUESDAY. SEPTEMBER 30,1997 GREAT PLAINS THE SALINA JOURNAL V HEALTH Study to examine toxic waste's effects on health Volunteers vital to study of incinerators' effects on southeast Kansans By MIKE SHIELDS Harris News Service TOPEKA — The biggest scientific study yet of the possible links between illness and four southeast Kansas toxic waste incinerators starts Wednesday. And essential to the study's success is participation by local citizens, the study team leader said. "We have to get the communities to buy into the study," said Dr. Bill Barkman of the Center for Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. Barkman said early stages of the planned three-year medical investigation will include a review of hospital emergency room records from Chanute, Fredonia, Independence and Coffeyville. The T PROPERTY TAXES records will be compared to those from similar towns without incinerators to see if the reported incidence of asthma, bronchitis or other lung ailments is greater near the incinerators, which burn toxic wastes for disposal or to fuel cement kilns. By next September, the study team hopes to have enlisted 50 or more volunteers in each of the four towns. Volunteers must agree to lung-function tests and continued monitoring of their health for the next 12 months. A look at cancer rates The investigation has three major components. In addition to the focus on possible respiratory illness, Dr. John Neuberger will study cancer mortality and incidence rates in the areas potentially effected by the incinerators. In the early 1980s, Neuberger was involved in Cherokee County lung cancer studies later cited in the designation of Galena, a for- mer coal mining town, as a federal Superfund site. Superfund sites receive pollution clean-up aid from the federal government. Dennis Lane, a University of Kansas engineer, will be in charge of air and other environmental monitoring and will determine what specific zones within the study region face the most potential risk from the incinerators. Neuberger said if Lane's work shows that people outside the incinerators' home counties might be harmed by them because of wind drift or other factors, he will expand his cancer study to include those areas, too. He said he will draw information from the Kansas Cancer Registry and other sources and try to document local cancer cases treated outside Kansas. Cases treated elsewhere sometimes aren't included on the Kansas registry, a confidential repository which attempts to record medical details about each of the state's cancer victims. Barkman said the second year of the study will be devoted mostly to environmental monitoring. The third year will be spent analyzing the data the team collects. The study is funded by a $400,000 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency in response to.local citizen concerns that emissions and dust from the incinerators are making people sick. Cement kiln incinerators are operated by Ash Grove Cement at Chanute, Lafarge Corp. at Fredonia, and Heartland Cement at Independence. Aptus-Laidlaw, a commercial toxic waste disposal incinerator, is at Coffeyville. Few, if any, places in the U.S. have toxic incinerators as closely concentrated as they are in southeast Kansas. Earlier studies The KU study isn't the first prompted by citizen concerns in the region. In June 1995, Dr. State's school mill levy might drop in '98 Increase in statewide property valuations could mean tax relief By LEW FERGUSON The Associated Press TOPEKA — A surprising 8 percent-plus increase in this year's property valuations statewide means the Legislature will have significantly more money for tax relief next year, a tax study committee learned Monday. "The news is very good," Legislative Research Department tax specialist Chris Courtwright told the interim Assessment and Taxation Committee during a Statehouse meeting. Chairwoman Audrey Langworthy of the Senate tax committee and Chairman Phill Kline of the House tax committee said the rosy report means the 1998 Legislature can consider providing more tax relief to Kansans than the $119 million approved during the 1997 session. They predicted the '98 session will consider further reduction in the • statewide property tax mill levy for schools, plus income tax relief, inheritance tax reduction, removing the sales tax on remodeling services and giving businesses a break on their machinery taxes. The study committee, headed by Kline, had planned to consider on Monday increasing the amount of the personal exemption and standard deduction on state income MAURE WEIGH Auto - Home Insurance Phone 827-2906 115 East Iron tax returns but delayed that discussion until today. Courtwright presented the committee with a table showing property valuations rose 8.34 percent from 1996 to 1997. That means the 27-mill school property tax levy will generate millions more for public education than previously expected, and the state will not have to put in as much money to fund elementary and secondary schools. Morton County led the valuation increase, up nearly 32 percent from 1996 to 1997, with Stevens County up 27.5 percent, Haskell 27, Stanton and Kearny both about 22 and Seward and Hamilton both nearly 20. Of the more populous counties, Finney led the way with an 18.5 percent increase, while Johnson was up 12.1 percent, Douglas 9.5, Saline 8.8, Crawford 8.1, Reno 7.7, Wyandotte 6.3 and Sedgwick 5.9. SPA REPAIR I We db spa repairs on I makes & models! 823-POOL POOL'S PLUS \\vrlii \ / INTERNET & E-MAIL ON YOUR Computer Not Required 1011 S. Ohio • Salina • 825-1581 id-Kan 'Internet. Inc. Stephen Pickard of Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported a higher-than-expected incidence between 1985 and 1994 of childhood leukemia in Labette County, which is downwind from the Aptus-Laidlaw incinerator. His study later was expanded to include nine other southeast counties. That broader study showed normal cancer incidence. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said science couldn't explain the "cancer cluster" in Labette County and that the relatively sparse population there offered too small a sample to draw meaningful scientific conclusions. In December 1996, also in response to citizen worries, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry began a "health review" of the area. That study, which has included some air monitoring but no individual health evaluations, is not yet complete. • What happens if the medical investigators find evidence of a direct link between sickness and the incinerators? 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