Ohio Cancer Cluster Families Hire Environmental Expert for Air Tests

Families living in an Ohio Cancer Cluster have hired an environmental consultant is collecting air samples in and around Clyde, Ohio in an attempt to determine if toxins are causing the abnormally high rate of childhood cancers. At least 37 children in a 12-mile area have been diagnosed with a cancer, four of whom have died.

In 2007, the Sandusky County Health Department reported what they believed was an abnormally high rate of cancers to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency after determining that between 1996 and 2006, 35 cases of lymphoma, brain tumors, leukemia and other cancers were affecting the children in a 12-mile wide radius of farmland outside of the Lake Erie region. Most of those cancer cases occurred between 2002 and 2006, NBC News reports. (https://www.nbcnews.com/id/40855275/ns/health-cancer/#.UT8RwBxOPeo)

State health officials spent the next three years testing water sources, groundwater, homes, air, schools and industrial sites around the area, but could come up with no sources of contamination. However, children continued to get sick. By 2010, what health officials found was that:

  • one in five of the childhood cancers were related to the central nervous system and brain
  • the cancers were affecting children under the age of 19 in Clyde and nearby Fremont
  • 9 children were diagnosed with cancer in 2006 alone
  • Four new cases of childhood cancer were diagnosed during the investigations

Officials also determined that some of the cancers affecting the children of these small Ohio farm towns were very rare. In fact, one child was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a very rare cancer that affects the connective tissue in the body, NBC reports.

Ohio Cancer Cluster Investigated By Federal Officials

In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began investigations, hoping to uncover some cause the state agency was unable to find. Though the state agencies believed the cancer cluster was caused by an environmental factor, they were unable to discover its origin. In 2012, the EPA reported that it was still investigating the causes of the cancer cluster, with the agency’s on-site coordinator telling WNWO “We did a lot of historical research,[looking at] aerial photographs…looking for burial areas, old state files just to see what we can find. Now we’re to the point we want to collect some physical samples,” from about 14 different sites around the area.

Later that year, the towns were ‘devastated’ by an EPA report that a neighborhood park had been a dumping ground for cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and toxic sludge. Ground samples taken from Whirlpool Park, a recreation area with a swimming pool, showed contaminants as deep as nine-foot in some areas, NorthwestOhio.com reports. Local families allege that Whirlpool did not disclose an EPA report about the toxins found at the park. Clyde, Ohio is where the Whirlpool Corporation’s largest washing machine factory is located. (https://www.northwestohio.com/news/story.aspx?id=825126#.UT8SvhxOPep)

This year, the families in and around the cancer cluster hired private environmental experts to come in and take particulate dust tests from the attics of local homes and to local water sources. Whirlpool also agreed to do a comprehensive study in and around the site of the Whirlpool Park. The results of the tests being conducted by the independent consultant are expected to be available in about three weeks, the Toledo Blade reports. (https://www.toledoblade.com/local/2013/03/05/Air-tests-of-Clyde-homes-start.html)

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