Archives for posts with tag: Cancer Cluster

From The Baltimore Sun:

Randy White had just buried a daughter, dead at 30 with a brain tumor. Now his other daughter had been diagnosed with growths in her abdomen.

When doctors told White in 2009 that their conditions were likely caused by something in their environment, the Frederick native thought of Fort Detrick. His children had grown up near the Army base.

Detrick was home to the nation’s biological weapons program from the 1940s through the 1960s. It remains a key center for medical research.

“Anybody that lives in Frederick knows all the rumors,” White says. “It’s kind of like, ‘Fort Detrick, they created anthrax, we knew that, smallpox …’ It just clicked for me.”

For decades, Frederick residents had speculated about the possible effects of the experiments at the base on the health of the surrounding community. But it took a grieving father with scientists, lawyers and money — White says he has spent more than $1 million so far — to drag questions about contamination and cancer out into the open.

White hired epidemiologists and toxicologists to monitor the air, soil and water around Detrick. He asked neighbors about their health histories and paid for lab tests to measure the toxins in their blood. He shared his findings with government officials.

The county and state health departments are now studying the cancer rate within a two-mile radius of the base. The Army has released details of Agent Orange testing. And local, state and federal officials are meeting regularly with the community to discuss their progress.

“Without him standing there shaking his hands and dancing around, it would not have gotten this much attention,” says Jennifer Peppe Hahn, a survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, growths on her pancreas and thyroid, and breast cancer.

“When Randy came forward about his daughter’s death,” she says, “somebody had enough money and enough passion at that point that nobody could ignore it.”

White, a former evangelical pastor and a businessman who first contacted officials last year, is demanding information about activities at Fort Detrick past and present, an apology to the people he believes were sickened, and a congressional hearing “so this never, ever happens again in the United States of America.”

He also has filed a mass tort lawsuit. He has been joined by more than 100 fellow plaintiffs.

“I didn’t want to fight, but the fight kind of came to me,” says White, 53. “I had lost my daughter, and then my other daughter was so sick. Our whole motive behind this thing was just to bring resolve and full disclosure.”

The Army says it has no indication that Fort Detrick is currently contaminating its surroundings, and it is responding to the community’s concerns.

State health officials, who are studying the incidence of cancer in the area during the last two decades, say they have found no evidence of a cluster.

But White says the state’s cancer registry is incomplete and out of date. He says his own scientists have found continuing contamination.

“Everything I say is backed up by scientific fact,” he says. “It’s not something we just dream up. … We just want the truth.”

Fort Detrick is a 1,200-acre campus in northern Frederick that today is home to a variety of military and civilian organizations involved in medical research and development, including a National Cancer Institute facility. For years, it was known primarily for its work on biological warfare agents, including anthrax and smallpox.

Scientists developed and tested biological agents there from World War II until 1969, when President Richard Nixon banned research into offensive biological warfare. Since then, researchers have focused on defending against biological attack.


From .

From : an investigation by 19 Action News Reporter, Scott Taylor.


From Environmental Health News:

By Rebecca Fuoco

Tanner, a 12-year-old from Clyde, Ohio, had a difficult school year. He was only able to attend a few weeks of school. Summer activities are also limited for Tanner, who cannot swim in public pools because his leukemia has left him with a diminished immune system.

Tanner and his older sister are among nearly 40 children from Sandusky County who have been diagnosed with cancer. The community of 62,000 has fought for answers to explain the series of child cancers that began a decade ago.

While cancer clusters are a nightmare for families and communities, they also are frustrating for state and local health officials. Cancer cluster investigations are notoriously difficult because of small budgets, the variety of factors involved in cancer development and the multitude of possible sources and exposures. They are almost always inconclusive.

Earlier this year, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced a bill known as “Trevor’s Law,” named after Trevor Schaefer, a brain cancer survivor who was diagnosed at the age of 13 and has worked to raise awareness of disease clusters and possible links to the environment.

This legislation would direct and fund federal agencies to assist state health officials in investigating potential clusters. It also would create science-based guidelines for cluster identification. The bill was sparked by rising rates of childhood cancer and the President’s Cancer Panel’s 2010 statement that the burden of environmentally-induced cancer is grossly underestimated.

Cancer clusters should indeed be a public policy concern. Forty-two cancer and other disease clusters in 13 states were recently identified by the Natural Resources Defense Council. All of them are suspected of being caused by toxic exposures in the community.

However, Trevor’s Law will yield little benefit unless there also is a significant change in the way chemicals are regulated in the United States.

The Toxic Substances Control Act is the federal law responsible for ensuring safety of industrial chemicals. Among its weaknesses is that it does not require chemical producers to provide data on a chemical’s environmental fate or toxicity before it is introduced into the market. Under the 1976 law, the Environmental Protection Agency may require the manufacturer to provide this information only if a chemical poses certain health or environmental risks. Even then, the procedures EPA must follow to obtain test data from companies can take years.

The EPA does not have the resources to routinely assess the hazards of 700 some chemicals introduced into commerce each year and companies very rarely voluntarily perform such testing. Accordingly, the vast majority of chemicals on the market today have not been tested for toxicity. Without access to scientific information on potential exposure routes, toxic mechanisms and health effects of at least 85,000 chemicals on the market today, it will remain exceedingly difficult for agencies to investigate clusters and their possible environmental causes.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, which will begin to close the data gap by requiring chemical manufacturers to develop and make publicly available toxicity and exposure information for all chemicals. . . .


You can watch Trevor’s riveting testimony to the U.S. Senate (around 31:15) at this video link.

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From the Charleston-Gazette:

Workers at DuPont Co.’s Wood County plant who were exposed to the chemical C8 were more likely to die from kidney cancer and other kidney diseases, according to the latest findings from a three-scientist panel studying C8’s potential health effects.

The C8 Science Panel found “significantly increased rates of death among the more highly exposed workers compared to low-exposed workers” for kidney cancer and nonmalignant, chronic kidney disease.

In a summary report made public Tuesday, the scientists said the increased deaths “could possibly be due to” C8 exposure because the kidney is one part of the body where the chemical is found.

Science Panel members issued two other reports Tuesday: One found that increased C8 levels in the blood of Mid-Ohio Valley residents were associated with increases in a liver enzyme that can be an indicator of liver disease. The other discovered a potential link between C8 exposure and pre-eclampsia, or diabetes among pregnant women.


From Port Huron Times Herald:

Five children in southeastern St. Clair County have been diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer in the past four years, and officials are trying to find out why.

The answer so far: They’re investigating.

This isn’t the first time the St. Clair County Health Department has investigated reports of a cancer cluster — or this possible cluster involving Wilms’ tumor, a cancer which is diagnosed in about 550 cases annually in the United States.

The county began an investigation in 2009 into the incidence of Wilms’ tumor, said Susan Amato, the department’s director of health education and planning. The state Department of Community Health determined further investigation wasn’t needed, she said.

Several years before that investigation, the county health department contracted for a firm to research a possible link between petroleum refining in Chemical Valley and cancer in St. Clair County. No conclusive evidence was found, Amato said.

Officials reopened the 2009 investigation after the latest case of Wilms’ tumor — Ireland Kulman, a 6-month-old girl from Marine City who was diagnosed in March — sparked concerns within the community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, a cancer cluster is a greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area during a period of time. According to the CDC’s website, cases are more likely to represent a cluster if they involve one type of cancer, a rare type of cancer or a type of cancer in a group not usually affected by that cancer.

But determining if a number of cancer cases in an area constitutes a cluster is not easy . . . .


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