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.