Brain Neoplasms, Leukemia and Petrochemical Exposures


Principal Investigator:
David Christiani, Professor of Occupational Medicine and Epidemiology

Department of Environmental Health and Department of Epidemiology

Dates of Research:
August 15, 2000 — July 31, 2006


Brain tumors and leukemia are the most common malignancies among children and adolescents in the U.S. However, adequate information on the role of inherited genetic susceptibility and environmental exposures in the development of neoplasms in children and adolescents is lacking. In Taiwan, four large petrochemical industries are located in the Kaohsiung metropolitan area in close proximity to residential areas. Data has shown that concentrations of ambient polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) around the petrochemical industries are at least 10 and 2 times higher, respectively, than those in industrialized communities in the U.S. Our preliminary case-control study in the Kaohsiung metropolitan area showed that young residents (age 30 and under) living within 3 kilometers of the petrochemical industries have a 6.0-fold increase in brain neoplasms and a 2.9-fold increase in leukemia. The purpose of this study is to examine the association of exposure to air contaminants (PAH and VOC) emitted from the petrochemical industries; relevant genetic polymorphisms (P4501A1 (MspI & exon 7), GSTM1 & GSTT1, CYP2E1, and DNA repair genes (XRCC1 and ERCC2) from study subjects and their parents; and the risks of brain tumors and leukemia among children and youths in metropolitan Kaohsiung. The study will also assess the role of the parental genetic polymorphisms in the development of cancer in their offspring.