Brain Tumors Shut Down Amoco Lab 10 Research Employees Stricken since 1982

By Culloton, Dan | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 28, 1996 | Go to article overview

Brain Tumors Shut Down Amoco Lab 10 Research Employees Stricken since 1982


Culloton, Dan, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Dan Culloton Daily Herald Staff Writer

Managers at the Amoco Research Center in Naperville on Tuesday vowed to "get to the bottom" of a rash of brain tumors among employees that has led it to close one floor of a building.

The research center shuttered the third floor of Building 503 on its campus in April after two members of its research and development staff learned they had brain tumors.

The two cases were the latest in a string of 10 researchers at the campus on Warrenville Road who have developed brain tumors since 1982.

Seven of the stricken workers had toiled in the 503 building at one point or another, said Michael S. Wells, manager of Amoco's epidemiology department and member of a "Brain Tumor Task Force" investigating the illnesses.

That's dramatically higher than the rate of tumors in the general population, where 10.9 new cases per 100,000 people are reported annually. About 1,000 people currently work at the center.

"Our rate is higher than that, without a doubt," Wells said.

The corporation will not know how much higher the research center's tumor rate is until after a squad of medical experts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Public Health completes a two-year study of the research center and everyone who has ever worked there, Wells said.

Researchers in the closed area, which will remain closed until the study is complete, focused on product development, organic chemistry and plastic polymers, said George T. Kwiatkowski, manager of new business research and development and chairman of the Brain Tumor Task Force.

The company formed the task force to investigate the tumors in 1989 after it learned two research center employees had cancerous brain tumors and that one other employee had been diagnosed with a similar sickness in 1986.

Amoco says it stepped up its efforts this year when doctors found a brain tumor in a retiree in February and a company sponsored health screening detected a tumor in a current employee in July.

In total Amoco's task force has found 10 research and development staff members who have developed tumors since 1982. They include:

- Four employees with glioma, a cancer of the cells that insulate the brain's nerve cells. One of those workers died in 1994.

- Two employees with meningioma, a benign tumor in the lining of the brain. …

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