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Cancer Mortality near Hanford Reactor

Keywords: regression


Larsen and Marx (1986) write

Since Word War II, plutonium for use in atomic weapons has been produced at an Atomic Energy Commission facility in Hanford, Washington. One of the major safety problems encountered there has been the storage of radioactive wastes. Over the years, significant quantities of these substances - including strontium 90 and cesium 137 - have leaked from their open-pit storage areas into the nearby Columbia River, which flows along the Washington-Oregon border, and eventually empties into the Pacific Ocean.

To measure the health consequences of this contamination, an index of exposure was calculated for each of the nine Oregon counties having frontage on either the Columbia River or the Pacific Ocean. This particular index was based on several factors, including the county's stream distance from Hanford and the average distance of its population from any water frontage. As a covariate, the cancer mortality rate was determined for each of these same counties.

The data give the index of exposure and the cancer mortality rate during 1959-1964 for the nine Oregon counties affected. Higher index values represent higher levels of contamination.

Variable Description

County Name of county
Exposure Index of exposure
Mortality Cancer mortality per 100,000 man-years


Data File (tab-delimited text)


Fadeley, R. C. (1965). Oregon malignancy pattern physiographically related to Hanford, Washington, Radioisotope Storage. Journal of Environmental Health 27, 883-897.
Larsen, R.J., and Marx, M.L., (1986). An Introduction to Mathematical Statistics and Its Applications 2nd Edition. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Case Study 1.2.4.


The relationship between the exposure index and mortality is approximately linear.



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