Lung diagnostic tests for millworkers now available in Graniteville, site of nation's largest chlorine disaster
July 18, 2012
The Graniteville Recovery and Chlorine Epidemiology (GRACE) Study Center is looking for hundreds of volunteers to participate in free lung diagnostic testing to identify and document any long-term lung health problems that have occurred since the 2005 train derailment and chlorine spill.
To be eligible, individuals must be previous employees of the Graniteville Company and/or Avondale Mills who had lung function testing done by the mill at least three times prior to the Graniteville chlorine spill. Exposure to chlorine from the spill is not required for former millworkers to participate.
Funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the GRACE study is examining the lung health of community members and workers at the Avondale Mill, where the train derailment occurred. Nine people died and hundreds more were affected by the chlorine gas spill, the largest chlorine disaster to date in the United States.
GRACE has identified more than 4,000 people who are eligible to participate and can accommodate up to 670 in the study. Participants will receive free lung diagnostic testing each year for the next three years — valued at $7,500 — at the new GRACE health testing center in Graniteville, S.C.
Diagnostic testing results will be interpreted by the study physician and provided to each participant. Participants can then coordinate any follow-up care with their personal physician. The GRACE study and its medical team cannot provide direct follow-up medical care.
In addition, other local residents or former millworkers who are not eligible for this study can register with GRACE to receive a free abbreviated lung health screening or be considered in possible future studies. The GRACE millworker study will provide 500 additional free abbreviated lung health screenings per year to other members of the community who are not involved in the main millworker study.
The GRACE study team is a coalition of researchers, staff and community members. GRACE partners with the Graniteville-Warrenville-Vaucluse community and the Graniteville Community Coalition and is staffed by clinicians from the Pulmonary, Critical Care and Environmental Medicine Section of Tulane University's School of Medicine with support from staff and faculty from Tulane University School of Public Health, Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, Medical University of South Carolina, University of Maryland, Georgia Health Sciences University and the University of Georgia.
The study physician is Dr. Lawrence Mohr, an expert in chlorine injury and pulmonary medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
The GRACE study began last summer with the anticipation that health testing would be conducted at Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta. The new facility in Graniteville—established to better serve the local community—is located in the old magistrate's office in the Masonic Lodge Shopping Center.
Dr. Erik Svendsen of Tulane University, former of the Arnold School, is principal investigator for the study. Arnold School faculty members Dr. Bo Cai and Dr. Wilfried Karmaus are USC researchers working on the study. Cai is the co-principal investigator; Karmaus is a co-investigator.
For questions about eligibility for the GRACE millworker study or more information about the free community health screenings, call 803-663-5004 or visit the GRACE Study office at the Masonic Lodge Shopping Center, 50 Canal St., Suite 14, Graniteville. Information is also available online at http://www.gracestudycenter.com/.