Current and former residents near Domtar plant in Edmonton asked to take part in health survey
Nearly 13,000 households were sent letters from Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services this month, asking them to take part in a health assessment because of how close they live — or lived — to an old wood treatment plant.
Domtar was in operation between 1924 and 1987. It used chemicals, including creosote, to treat wood products at its facility north of Yellowhead Trail in Edmonton.
Alberta Health conducted a preliminary study of cancer diagnoses among residents in the Homesteader area near the plant. It found that among people who lived there for a decade or more, there were elevated rates of lung cancer in men, as well as endometrial and breast cancer in women.
“That’s what these letters are related to,” explained medical officer of health Dr. Chris Sikora.
“It’s a more in-depth investigation of what does this increased rate of cancer diagnosis actually mean? What can possibly be done to prevent further circumstances and also really help identify the answer to the question of why is this the way it is?”
The letters were sent out a week into July, asking residents who lived in the area for a decade or more — since 1983 — to fill out an online survey about their health, as well as the health of any loved ones who may have lived in the area but died.
“We are encouraging individuals to fill it out on behalf of individuals that may have passed away already. In order to make the data as wholesome and rich as possible — but also to gather information from and about those who might not be able to provide that information themselves,” Sikora said.
AHS says the more answers they receive to the questions, the better their analysis will be.
Sample questions include:
“How long have you lived in the area? How far away from the site? What were your personal health practices? What other medical conditions might you have? What treatments have you had in your medical history — sometimes related to cancer diagnosis. What medications? Has radiation been used? What have you done for work?”
The survey closes at the end of August and Sikora says the findings will be shared with residents.
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