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NEWS IN BRIEF: A summary of developments across Los
Angeles County | Community News File / West Covina

Landfill Not Cause of Illnesses, Study Says

October 21, 1998

The BKK landfill did not cause long-term health problems in babies born to people living around the landfill's controversial hazardous waste dumping ground, according to a state study released Tuesday.

The study by the state Department of Health Services looked at babies born from 1978 to 1986 to families in neighborhoods three miles around the hazardous waste site, located in the low-lying San Jose Hills.

The study found a correlation between exposure to toxic gases and a slight decrease in birth weights. In 1981 and 1984 there was a 2-ounce reduction in birth weight in two areas near the site. But Dr. Martin Kharrazi, who helped lead the study, said the difference was not likely to be of medical significance.

The state commissioned the study after an earlier report by UC Santa Barbara scientists showed higher than normal rates of infant deaths and low birth weights in areas around BKK from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Those were years of peak dumping at the hazardous waste site.

The site, closed in 1984 after complaints of airborne toxic emissions, was one of the largest in the nation when it was operational.

Kharrazi said most of the cases of early death and low birth weight occurred a mile from BKK, leading him to conclude that other factors must have caused the problems found by UC Santa Barbara.

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