Cancer Cluster – what is the link to residents?

Hazleton, Pennsylvania ( – News Report) – In an area about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia, many average American families built their homes and lives. What is not so average is the fact that the families share the surrounding area with several Superfund toxic cleanup sites and a power plant fired by waste coal, in addition to a large center where paint sludge, waste oils, solvents, PCBs, cyanide, pesticides and other carcinogens were recycled 30 years ago.

Now, in 2008, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has confirmed many cases of polycythemia vera, PV – a rare blood cancer, in the area between the towns of Hazleton and Tamaqua. Government officials state that the residents in the affected area were four times as likely to suffer from PV as residents living in outlying areas. According to an article in the Associated Press, the researchers have confirmed 33 cases of PV in Luzerne, Carbon and Schuylkill counties. This is a smaller number than when findings were first reported in last October. This slight decrease is due to the fact that PV results in the overproduction of red blood cells and can lead to heart attack or stroke. The cause of PV is unknown; therefore the link to the individuals with the condition stemming from the pollution from the plants is uncertain.

The main point being that more research and investigations must be conducted before this is fully recognized. Recently, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $262,000 for Drexel University to investigate the ‘cancer cluster’. Anxious residents are awaiting the Senate’s approval. Senator Specter stated that, “It is clear that more research is necessary to pinpoint the reasons for this cluster, including whether environmental contaminants are a factor,” Specter said in a statement. Only with time, will city officials and residents be able to tell if there truly is a link, and if there is, be sure to stay informed for the upcoming lawsuits.

Justice News Flash – Staff Reporter

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