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Toxic waste linked to cancer in Pennsylvania

February 5, 2009 by  

Toxic waste is causing health problems in Pa.Environmental contaminants may be causing cancers in inhabitants of three counties in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Scientists from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified a cluster of a rare blood cancer, called polycythemia vera, in the Tamaqua area of Pennsylvania and have found a potential link between the disease and environmental pollution.

The researchers have confirmed that a large number of their patients live within close proximity to areas containing hazardous waste materials coming from waste-coal power plants and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund sites.

"The role of the environment in the origin of this blood cancer has not been previously documented," said Dr. Hoffman. "This study may prove that diagnosis of this cancer based solely on clinical criteria may be inaccurate."

He added that the frequency of this form of bone marrow cancer is likely to be specifically related to environmental factors.

This is not the first time toxic chemicals have been linked to serious health problems. In recent weeks scientists have announced research results suggesting that exposure to commonly used industrial chemicals can cause fertility problems in men and women.

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  • Bob Livingston

    Indeed there is a mountain of research and literature linking industrial chemicals to serious health problems. Toxic waste can more often than not be traced to big business’ who destroy the environment with impunity. From time to time they get slapped on the wrist and receive small fines which the big companies only consider to be the “cost of doing business.”

    The movie “Erin Brockovich” tells the story of how a big company was dumping hazardous waste and it caused cancer among the citizens of the town. Erin Brockovich was the lady who bored into the toxic canker and exposed it. True story! Turned out in one instance where big business had to pay big.

  • Marcia

    I live in pa what countys are affected by chemical waste. This is something that should be in our newspaper and I can write a letter to the editor about this serious problem

    • Benton Ebersole

      When you recieve the answer will you please copy to me?

    • don
    • LadyWolf

      Tamaqua is a borough in eastern Schuykill County, Pennsylvania. It is located in Pennsylvania’s Coal Region. The region is made up of Schuylkill, Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, and Columbia counties, and also the northernmost reaches of Dauphin county. Schuykill would be one of the counties but I can’t identify the other two. Hope this helps a little. Perhaps the Dept of Health in those counties can provide information regarding cancer statistics in those counties.

  • LadyWolf

    Tamaqua is a borough in eastern Schuykill County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It is located in Pennsylvania’s Coal Region. The region is made up of Schuylkill, Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, and Columbia counties, and also the northernmost reaches of Dauphin county. Schuykill would be one of the counties but I can’t identify the other two. Hope this helps a litte. Perhaps the Dept of Health those counties canprovide information regarding cancer statistics in those counties.

    • Marcia

      Thank you so much for telling the counties. I have relatives living in those counties and one of them just had a biopsy and is afraid she has cancer. Her husband died of cancer.

  • Bernie

    This is rather scary … especially since my family grew-up not all that far from Tamaqua (which was about 35-40 minutes away from our home) …

  • LadyWolf

    Marcia and Benton,

    I’m glad it helped you. The village I live in had our water supply contaminated by MTBE ( a gasoline additive) from a gas station nearby. We have a very large number of people here with cancer and miscarriages. The MTBE was in the water for a long time before it was discovered. I had seen figures from the Department of Health listing the large numbers of health problems in our area prior to the discovery of the contamination. When they announced the problem, it all made sense. What really angers me is that a friend of mine and I spoke before the Village Board and the Planning Board when the gas station owners came before them to get approval. My friend and I pleaded with them not to allow them to build that near to our well because of the possibility of a gasoline leak. The boards insisted that couldn’t happen and approved their plan. They claim to have removed the problem. I don’t believe them. Most of the people I know don’t either and we don’t drink the water. The problem is we still have to bathe and the MTBE gets into the body through the pores. There are still high cancer rates here.

  • gina

    Polycythemia Vera cancer cluster

    check out and also

    type in polycythemia vera and you will get a lot of info. I moved from Tamaqua in 2001 diaganosed with a different form of this, all under the polycythemia vera label.

    The center for disease control in Atlanta is involved. There is a test called the Jak 2 that they are giving. Anyone from this area Carbon, Luzerne, Schuylkill counties should get tested.

  • Dwight Ash

    From age 2 to 12 I lived in Johnstown, PA. There were several streams and rivers that were heavily polluted from coal mines and other industrial runoff and we were warned not to swim in them but as kids will do we swam in them anyway. There were no fish that could survive in these waters. It always puzzled me why such a beautiful environment had polluted waters? As an adult I came to realize that ignorance, greed, and avarice were part of the cause for this catastrophe.

  • John

    I am 74 years old. I have lived through many environmental scares including the dead waters of the Mississippi river through the findings of so called gasses of water wells and yes even the toxic manures of our cattle feed lots and dairy manure. There is no doubt that too much of anything may cause some adverse results including cancer but for the most part these scares were inaccurate and misleading. Even our Louisiana oil disaster turned out to be a yawn compared to the press calling it the largest disaster ever. I fish in the gulf of Mexico and did last weekend. This is the same gulf of Mexico that in the 1950′s when offshore rigs were by the hundreds and threw everything overboard. Most often these scientists are looking for money and study grants are often the prize.


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