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The Acreage Cancer Scare: Tests Show Water, Soil at Two Schools OK

Aug 21, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Water and soil samples taken from two schools in The Acreage have tested negative for contaminants, according to a report on   Residents of The Acreage raised concerns earlier this summer that the Florida community might be the sight of a cancer cluster after several residents - including children - were diagnosed with brain tumors.

The water and soil testing at  Western Pines Community Middle and Golden Grove Elementary was part of Palm Beach County's investigation into the cancer cases.  According to, the samples were tested for  chemicals,  pesticides and herbicides.  County Administrator Bob Weisman told that the water at the schools - which comes from a public water plant - was "remarkably clean".

The Florida Health Department is still  waiting for the results from  tests of water in area wells and water lines.  Those test results could come back in about a month.

While the news of  the favorable tests at the schools was met with relief by many residents of The Acreage, they told that they were still concerned that their  community is a cancer cluster.  Because of  residents' concerns,  the Florida Department of Health has been gathering basic information on people in the area who have had brain cancer. An investigation will be launched if cancer rates in The Acreage turn out to be higher than what is normal.  The results of the Departments' probe should be available in  about two weeks.

In June, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., called on both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate a possible cancer cluster after several children, all of whom live a few miles apart in The Acreage, developed brain tumors.

According to the CDC, a cancer cluster is defined as a greaten-er-thaxpected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area over a period of time. Cancer cases are more likely to represent a cancer cluster if they involve (1) one type of cancer, (2) a rare type of cancer, or (3) a type of cancer in a group not usually affected by that cancer, such as a cancer in children.

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