Childhood cancer in small geographical areas and proximity to air-polluting industries

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Pediatric cancer has been associated with exposure to certain environmental carcinogens. The purpose of this work is to analyse the relationship between environmental pollution and pediatric cancer risk.


We analysed all incidences of pediatric cancer (<15) diagnosed in a Spanish region during the period 1998–2015. The place of residence of each patient and the exact geographical coordinates of main industrial facilities was codified in order to analyse the spatial distribution of cases of cancer in relation to industrial areas. Focal tests and focused Scan methodology were used for the identification of high-incidence-rate spatial clusters around the main industrial pollution foci.


The crude rate for the period was 148.0 cases per 1,000,0000 children. The incidence of pediatric cancer increased significantly along the period of study. With respect to spatial distribution, results showed significant high incidence around some industrial pollution foci group and the Scan methodology identify spatial clustering. We observe a global major incidence of non Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL) considering all foci, and high incidence of Sympathetic Nervous System Tumour (SNST) around Energy and Electric and organic and inorganic chemical industries foci group. In the analysis foci to foci, the focused Scan test identifies several significant spatial clusters. Particularly, three significant clusters were identified: the first of SNST was around energy-generating chemical industries (2 cases versus the expected 0.26), another of NHL was around residue-valorisation plants (5 cases versus the expected 0.91) and finally one cluster of Hodgkin lymphoma around building materials (3 cases versus the expected 2.2)


Results suggest a possible association between proximity to certain industries and pediatric cancer risk. More evidences are necessary before establishing the relationship between industrial pollution and pediatric cancer incidence.

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