Health Studies

Throughout the Middleport environmental remediation program, FMC has been committed to being accessible and helping the local community better understand the presence of arsenic in soil and providing data, through several health studies, disproving any human health and safety issues.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in soil, air, water, and many foods such as rice, flour, grape juice, chicken, beef, peanut butter, eggs, spinach, peas and fish. The large majority of human exposure to arsenic is dietary from the food and water people ingest in their daily lives.

In 2004, FMC sponsored a biomonitoring study as part of a Middleport Environmental Exposure Investigation related to residential exposure to arsenic in soil. The study used urine and toenail samples to test for exposure to inorganic arsenic from soil involving 439 residents in Middleport, including 77 children under the age of seven.

The study was funded by FMC and conducted by Exponent, an independent contractor, with outside review by a panel of health experts from universities, research institutes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The biomonitoring study found there was no clear evidence of elevated exposure from arsenic in soil for participants. Urinary arsenic levels of individual participants were overall much lower than the reference level for elevated arsenic exposure. Toenail arsenic levels were also below the CDC reference level for normal exposure.

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) previously conducted a cancer incidence study that examined cancer registry data from 1976 through 1984 for the Village of Middleport. The study concluded that the cancer incidence for 17-19 different organs or for all cancers combined in men, women, or children was similar to the expected incidence for areas of similar population density for 1978-1982 in New York.

Incidence of Cancer in the Village of Middleport (Niagara County) New York (1987)

NYSDOH also conducted a biomonitoring study in May and June of 1987 with students from Royalton-Hartland school to evaluate whether students had increased arsenic exposure from the arsenic soil levels detected on school property. Samples were also collected from students from the Albany area (East Greenbush Central School District) as a control group.

No significant differences were found between the Middleport students and those from East Greenbush; however, only total arsenic levels were measured in urine, which can be confounded by dietary organic arsenic sources. None of the total arsenic levels in urine for Middleport students exceeded 50 μg/L; whereas, five students from East Greenbush had levels exceeding 50 μg/L and were retested. Questionnaires from these five students indicated recent ingestion of seafood.

Results of Biological Monitoring Program for Arsenic and Lead: Middleport Elementary and Roy-Hart Jr/Sr High Schools (1987)