Cincinnati Police's Criminal Investigation Section used to be located in this building on Broadway Street Downtown that also holds the Hamilton County Board of Elections. (Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
Last month, prominent local civil rights leader Bishop Bobby Hilton went before Cincinnati City Council and Mayor John Cranley and asked them to have a cancer outlier study conducted on District 5 headquarters.
Hilton request came about a month after his youngest sister, longtime District 5 Officer Angela Hilton, was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer.
She joined a list of about 30 other past and present District 5 officers who have been diagnosed with cancer, including several who have died, according to the president of the police union president, Sgt. Dan Hils.
Most council members have said they thought Hilton's proposal had merit and they would like that information, too.
It is one that comes after a FOX19 NOW Investigation into conditions and health concerns at the aging Ludlow Avenue building.
Our reporting prompted officers with cancer to come forward to Sgt. Hils. Both he and Hilton have said they suspect the cancer pattern could be linked to conditions at District 5, though they concede they have no proof.
City officials, however, say recent tests for mold, radon and asbestos found the air quality in the building was typical for commercial buildings.
So far, the city has not launched a cancer outlier study, and a city spokesman has said officials will not be discussing cancer rates among employees at various city work spaces.
But back in July 2008, police management asked the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to investigate after just five Criminal Investigation Section employees were diagnosed with cancer between 1998 and 2008, including four who had died, according to a NIOSH health hazard evaluation report.
NIOSH conducted the health hazard evaluation in November 2008 at CIS, which was housed at the time in a building on Broadway Street Downtown that also holds the Hamilton County Board of Elections.
"The request concerned a possible excess of cancer among current and former employees," a federal 2009 report states.
"In addition, management expressed concern about chemical exposures encountered during criminal investigation procedures and about IEQ (indoor environmental quality) in the CIS on the fifth floor, as well as other areas of the building on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors."
They concluded "the numbers of types of cancer reported among employees of the CPD, CIS, did not appear unusual and were unlikely related to workplace exposures. None of the chemicals used regularly were known to cause cancer in humans, and all personal exposures were below OELs (occupational exposure limits).
"Recommendations were provided to correct problems with the design and function of the HVAC and LEV systems and to develop a forensic laboratory health and safety plan," the report states.
The five employees reported to have cancer each had a different type: lung adenocarcinoma, bile duct cholangiocarcinoma, multiple myeloma, melanoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to the report.
"The average age of death was 62 years old. The employee still living was not working because of his illness," the report reads. "Their average duration of employment in the CIS was 16 years. Four were smokers and one never smoked."
In 2015, the city bought a building at 801 Linn St. in Queensgate and has since relocated CIS, the Special Investigations Section and Court Property Unit there.
"The relocation of these units will provide an opportunity to better consolidate departmental operations, improve operational efficiency and enhance customer service," a city ordinance shows.
"The Linn Street facility is a six-floor office complex consisting of approximately 600,000 square-feet of office space and will include over 200 parking spaces to accommodate both employee and public parking needs. The debt service resources for this project will be offset by savings resulting from the elimination of current facility lease payments."