Michael Blain, a Boise State University sociology professor who has studied cancer rates in eastern Idaho, says he believes people there have been exposed to radiation and gotten cancer. More study needs to be done, he said.
He found Clark County had an elevated rate of cancer incidences compared with national averages. The most likely source, he said, could have been air releases from operations at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory between 1952 and 1965, he said.Though other factors may explain the county's cancer rate, airborne radioactive particles carried by the wind are the most direct source of exposure, Blain said. The prevailing wind in Clark County is from the southwest, the direction of INEL.
In a 1984 study based on U.S. Department of Health figures and figures from the Idaho Tumor Registry, Blain found the incidences of cancer from 1950 to 1969 should have been about nine, but 17 were observed.
From 1971 to 1980 he expected to find eight cancer cases, and 11 were found. He also expected three of those cases to be breast cancer, but six were observed.