More than 800 Port Hueneme residents were sent letters Friday alerting them that their risk of getting cancer may have increased slightly because of a sandblasting operation at the naval base eight years ago.
Capt. Jim McConnell, commanding officer of the Naval Construction Battalion Center, notified 60 on-base residents and 800 residents southwest of the base of a potential health risk from the removal of paint and the repainting of trucks, bulldozers and other equipment bound for the Persian Gulf conflict in 1990.
A recent Health Risk Assessment found that the emissions from the sandblasting may have increased the odds of getting cancer by 10 to 13 chances in a million, CBC spokeswoman Linda Wadley said.
That prediction was based on a “very cautious” computer model that assumes residents remain in the area for 70 years, 24 hours a day, she added.
“If that were the case with a person, it is possible that their risk of cancer may have been increased,” Wadley said. “It is a cautious assumption, because they want to make sure risks aren’t underestimated.”
The sandblasting operations were conducted according to county air permits, Wadley said, but state law requires that activity producing air emissions be surveyed for health impact and that affected residents be notified of the study’s results.
Residents who were sent McConnell’s letter were also informed of improvements in vehicle preparation and painting since 1990 that will reduce emissions and any health risk posed by them.