2008 February: (Toowong) Soils Tests Fail to Solve ABC Cancer Mystery. Pesticides: DDT, Dieldrin

Soil tests fail to solve ABC cancer mystery

Georgina Robinson | February 26, 2008 – 3:16PM

Soil testing at the ABC’s abandoned Brisbane studios has found staff there were not exposed to excessive levels of pesticides and other chemicals.

A report released yesterday found levels of pesticides and metals including arsenic, cadmium, nickel and lead at the Toowong site, in the city’s inner-west, were well below national contamination guidelines.

It was the latest probe into the Toowong studios, which were abandoned in December 2006 after an investigation found breast cancer rates in workers at the site were six times the national average.

At least 17 women who worked there have been diagnosed with the disease, with the most recent known case confirmed less than three months ago.

The study took samples from two locations, a production desk most of the diagnosed women worked at and a substation on the site.

Testing showed chemical concentrations at the production desk were “generally higher” than at the substation, but still much lower than recommended levels.

The sampling also looked at concentrations of PCBs, a group of banned organic compounds, but found no evidence of any major leaks at the substation.

And levels of the banned pesticide dieldrin, which is similar to DDT, were found to be very low at both locations.