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Mortality in the Bedouin Population and Proximity to a Regional Industrial Complex

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Background: The study was initiated by public concern about exposure to an industrial park (IP) emission. The study examined whether mortality in the Bedouin population in the southern part of Israel is associated with the residential distance to the IP. Material and Methods: Ecological study during 1995–2001 included the entire Bedouin population. Mortality data was obtained from the Central Bureau of Statistics. As an indirect measurement of exposure we used residential distance to the IP (with 20 km radius as a cut-of-point) based on residents’ complaints about odor related to the IP. Differences in mortality rates by distance were assessed by the Mantel-Haenszel relative risk (M-H RR) within the 95% CI. The country Arab population served as a reference for calculation of the age-adjusted standardized mortality ratio (SMR). Results: Increased mortality rates due to symptoms/ill-defined conditions and non-external causes were observed in the Bedouin population of both sexes, residing up to 20 km from the IP, compared to those living in more remote areas. Corresponding M-H RR (plus 95% CI) were 1.66 (1.17–2.36), 1.24 (1.06–1.44) in females, and 1.55 (1.15–2.10), 1.32 (1.15–1.52) in males. Conclusions: The study results suggest an association between residential proximity to the regional IP and increased mortality rates in the Negev Bedouin population. These findings have been accepted by the authorities as an issue for community health protection.


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