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The Acreage Cancer Cluster Meeting Yields Few Answers

Oct 21, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Few residents of The Acreage who attended a meeting on a possible cancer cluster in the Florida community were satisfied with what they heard.  According to a report in The Miami Herald, many attendees were unhappy that an investigator from the Florida Department of Health was unable to provide much more information beyond what they already knew.  

As we’ve reported previously, residents of The Acreage have been concerned about a cancer cluster since several children living in close proximity to each other were diagnosed with brain tumors. People in the area have speculated that a nearby Pratt & Whitney jet engine plant and/or citrus groves in the area, which used potentially dangerous pesticides for decades, may have tainted well water in the area. There were also concerns about soil contamination.

Earlier this summer, residents’ concerns prompted the Florida Department of Health to begin a study of cancer rates in the area. The results of the first phase were unveiled in late August. According to the Palm Beach Post, investigators found 1,369 cases of all types of cancer among residents in The Acreage between 1995 and 2007. A similar-sized area elsewhere in Florida could be expected to have 1,055 cases in that time, the Post said. The report revealed six cases of brain cancer in children 14 and younger from 1997 to 2007. Of those, three were diagnosed in 2008, the report said.

The Florida health department report was not clear as to whether or not the findings pointed to the existence of a “cancer cluster” in the community. However, the department decided to launch a second phase of its investigation of cancer rates in The Acreage.

On Monday evening, Florida State Rep. Carl Domino, R-Juno Beach, hosted a meeting for residents of The Acreage so that they could question the epidemiologist leading the state Department of Health investigation into the possible cluster.   According to The Miami Herald, concern over excessive radiation in the community's wells was a major concern.  At least 20 families in The Acreage have taken it upon themselves to arrange to have their wells tested for radiation.

So far, the Health Department has not found any man made contaminants in The Acreage.  The department is getting ready to interview the families of 10 children who were diagnosed with brain tumors between 1995 and 2008.  According to The Miami Herald, those interviews should start in the next few weeks.

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