Pratt & Whitney Workers & Brain Ca

Cases Of Brain Cancer At Plant Prompt Study

January 24, 2002

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -

Medical research into brain cancer deaths of Pratt and Whitney workers at the jet engine maker's North Haven plant will be expanded to include employees at all plants in Connecticut.

A group of victims' relatives met Wednesday night with Gary Marsh, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Pittsburgh. He was hired by Pratt to conduct the study, which is being supervised by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

"This is a massive study. It could be one of the largest studies of this type ever done," he said. The review of medical records of all employees could take three to four years to complete, Marsh said. The availability of medical records going back 77 years will limit the study, he said.

Pratt and Whitney employs 13,000 workers in East Hartford, North Haven, Chesire and Middletown. But Pratt and Whitney was founded in 1925, leading to the possibility that the review will include thousands more workers.

The state Department of Public Health launched its own investigation last summer to determine whether a cancer cluster exists at the North Haven plant. A preliminary health department report released in February was inconclusive.

Nineteen workers at the North Haven plant have died of brain cancer since at least the 1990s, prompting the union that represents the workers to request the study. Marsh said health officials decided to expand the study because many of the workers were employed at more than one plant. The expansion will also allow researchers to compare disease rates between plants.

There are currently about 150 employees at the North Haven plant. At is peak in the 1960s and 1970s, the plant employed about 7,000 workers. Mark Sullivan, spokesman for Pratt and Whitney, said the company strongly supports the study.

Former plants in Southington and Rocky Hill could also be included in the study.

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