Study probes links between cancer and contaminated land

The findings of the biggest ever study into the links between cancer and pollution in Northern Ireland were presented as part of the William Smith meeting 2009.

The conference, which last until Wednesday (23 September), is organised by The Geological Society.

Explaining the findings of the Tellus case study, Amy Barsby of Queen’s University Belfast, explained it was the most concentrated mapping exercise ever undertaken in Northern Ireland, launched in 2004 by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland.

Speaking today (21 September) Mrs Barsby explained: “The study was undertaken because cancer is now the biggest killer in Northern Ireland, having recently overtaken strokes.”

Her study consists of airborne geophysical and ground based geochemical surveys for more than 50 compounds in shallow and deep soils, stream water and stream sediments on a 2km² grid.

The project aims to bring together data from the Tellus and the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry to look at the potential spatial correlations between trace elements in the soils and waters and human diseases, specifically cancer.

The results are preliminary at present and the findings will be published in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry and the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland.

The full results of the project which started in 2004 and finished in 2006 can be found here.

Luke Walsh

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