CEDAR seminar: Stillborn in Västerbotten, 1880-1950. Did proximity to Rönnskär matter?
In 1930 the copper smelter Rönnskär opened up, at the same time stillborn rates rose rapidly in the Skellefteå region. Did the opening of the smelter plant cause this rise in stillborns?
Exposure to metal pollutants such as copper, arsenic, zinc and lead from the smelter has shown to affect the health of the workers and their offspring. The same pollutant can increase stillborn risks. In this study we analysed geographical patterns in stillborn rate in the Västerbotten, using longitudinal micro-data, on a fine-grained geographical scale. We test whether stillborn risks were higher in the area surrounding the smelter before and after 1930 using logistic regression. We further tested whether the stillborn rates were, overall, spatially dependent or clustered. Finally, we modelled the geographical patterns using Bayesian spatial models.
Although we found strong spatial auto-correlations and clusters before 1930, we did not find that stillborn risks were clustered in the area surrounding the smelter after 1930. Stillborn rates increased in the whole Skellefteå region independently of the proximity to the Rönnskär smelter plant.