CINCINNATI – It was a misunderstanding, a U.S. health official says.
There won’t be any time limit to the health hazard evaluation at District 5 police headquarters that prompted FOP President Dan Hils to say that he expected it to be a “snow job.”
Any cancer diagnoses reported by current or former staffers at District 5 can be considered in the cancer cluster study, a response from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health said Tuesday.
Hils was provoked by a Monday letter that indicated NIOSH would only consider cancer diagnoses since Jan. 1, 2014.
Dr. Sophia Chiu clarified that and apologized for the confusion, saying:
In our letter dated November 20, 2017, we requested information on “each current or past District 5 employee diagnosed with cancer since January 1, 2014.” This sentence was intended to request information on all current or past District 5 employees who had been identified with cancer since 2014. It was not intended to restrict information to only employees with new diagnoses of cancer as of 2014. We apologize for the confusion.
As we stated at our opening meeting at District 5 headquarters on November 15, 2017, if union, management, or employee representatives have other records concerning District 5 employees with cancer, we would be happy to review those records as well.
READ the Nov. 21 letter from Dr. Chiu here or below.
WCPO reached out to Hils but he has not responded.
A NIOSH spokesperson, Stephanie Stevens, also weighed in on the matter in response to a WCPO inquiry, saying:
Our scientific approach to investigating potential cancer clusters includes an evaluation of current workplace conditions and a summary of health concerns from the recent past. We are following established guidelines for investigating suspected cancer clusters published in 2013 by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE). We have adapted these standard principles of cancer cluster evaluations to the occupational setting. If the union, management, or employee representatives have other records concerning District 5 employees with cancer, we can review those records as well.
Hils took the wording of the first letter to mean the study wouldn’t take into account the deaths that set off the alarm and led him to demand that police and the city close the building at 1012 Ludlow Ave.
“This will not include most of the 2015 and 2016 deaths that led us to this concern,” Hils said in a Facebook post Monday. “It will not include most of cancer survivors still living with the fear of the disease returning.”
Since last December, Hils and City Council member Charlie Winburn have claimed publicly that conditions at District 5 headquarters, 1012 Ludlow Ave., might have contributed to a higher-than-normal cancer rate among people who have worked there. Hils said six workers contracted cancer between 2015 and 2016.
The city and police department responded by starting to move District 5 personnel to temporary locations until a new headquarters is ready in 2019. The plan is to have everyone moved out of Ludlow by the end of the year.
What Is a Cancer Cluster Study?
A cancer cluster evaluation attempts to determine whether cancer cases may have a common cause or may be the coincidental occurrence of unrelated causes, according to NIOSH. Find information about the process on the NIOSH website.