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Green Cross Switzerland: Sunken Munition Report (2017)

Civilian exposure to munitions-specific carcinogens and resulting cancer risks for civilians on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques following military exercises from 1947 to 1998

Estimation of legacy public health risks from munitions residues near or at former military test ranges has for the past decades been a challenge to health authorities. Parts of the island of Vieques (PR) were for six decades used for military training, and these are now declared as a Superfund site. ATSDR has conducted site assessments there and found no cause for public health concerns. The reports and findings of ATSDR have since been heavily contested and disputed. This paper provides a case study on cancer risk screening of munitions-specific carcinogens for the full period of military training on Vieques. Added cancer risks and Margins of Exposure for the different carcinogens for each year were derived. We found that there is a potential for cancer risk concern related to BaP exposures. Furthermore, there were health risks from TNT exposures. The primary exposure route of these compounds was oral. The period 1992–1997 showed a significantly elevated lung and bronchus cancer incidence rate in Vieques compared to Puerto Rico mainland mainly among women <50 yr and men 50–64 yr. These correlate with high munitions exposures in the period 1977–1984.

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