DPE’s Response To University Network For Human Rights UNHR Study

Denka Performance Elastomer commissioned a scientific review of the University Network for Human Rights “study” on cancer in St. John the Baptist Parish published last month. Please find some of its key points extracted below. The author of the report, Dr. Sandra Sulsky, is an experienced epidemiologist and principal of Ramboll US Corporation, part of a multinational environmental consulting group.

  • The UNHR report does not list any authors and was not subject to peer review.
  • The report methodologies are insufficiently described and therefore cannot be thoroughly examined or recreated.
  • Geographical areas studied and not based on measured chloroprene exposure, meaning report’s health results can’t be compared with exposure levels.
  • The report’s methods were not designed to prevent biases, which for example could have increased the likelihood of selection of unhealthy survey participants, and could inflate the frequency of illness reported.
  • Self-reported cancers and other health outcomes were not objectively verified, making it impossible to verify results based on them.
  • Potential confounders of risk such as lifestyle choices, diet, gender, race, age, etc. were not appropriately accounted for in the report.
  • The report’s results directly contradict the historical and current findings of the Louisiana Tumor Registry. The Tumor Registry’s findings are based on verified cancer diagnoses, which are inherently more reliable and accurate than self-reported cases and cases reported on others’ behalf.  For more information about the Tumor Registry and the data it collects and compiles, please visit https://sph.lsuhsc.edu/louisiana-tumor-registry/
  • The UNHR Report does not reveal the different types of cancer diagnoses being reported by the respondents.  The study asked for non-specific health impacts and cancers, which means the reported illnesses could be caused by a multitude of factors, and could not be separated for analysis from those thought to be linked to chloroprene.  No single chemical is related to all cancers or illnesses reported.
  • The authors of the report compared cancer prevalence as reported by survey respondents to expected cancer prevalence rates that the authors estimated using a statistical approach. The authors applied this approach incorrectly, making the comparison between the reported prevalence rate and the erroneous estimated expected cancer rate meaningless.

Please click on the links below for the full critique and Dr. Sulsky’s curriculum vitae.

Full Critique

Dr. Sulsky’s curriculum vitae