2006.09.30 – RECORDED CASES OF CANCER NEAR SUPERFUND SITE TOO FEW FOR STUDY FEDERAL AGENCY SCIENTISTS SPEAK AT SCHUYLKILL CENTER.

FEDERAL AGENCY SCIENTISTS SPEAK AT SCHUYLKILL CENTER.
By Chris Parker Of The Morning Call
The Morning Call Inc., Copyright 2006

September 30, 2006

State Health Department officials said Friday they have recorded 82 cases of a rare blood disease in all of Schuylkill, Carbon and Luzerne counties , despite a West Penn Township doctor’s claims that local oncologists have told him there are at least 90 confirmed cases near a Schuylkill Superfund site .

The department told a gathering at Schuylkill County Agricultural Center in Pottsville that since But the number it says has come to its attention is below claims by Dr. Peter Baddick of West Penn Township of at least 90 confirmed cases near the McAdoo Associates Superfund site Baddick, who says he is alarmed by the number of cases of polycythemia vera and other cancers in the area along Ben Titus Road in Rush Township near the Superfund site, called for Friday’s meeting.

Health Department epidemiologist Gene Weinberg, who was part of a study of the cancer rate in the Tamaqua/McAdoo area, said all of Schuylkill has 22 cases of the disease, which can be classified as a cancer — twice the state average.

Most of the cases are at least a dozen miles east of the Superfund site, in Pottsville and Frackville, which had four cases each, and Mahanoy City, which had three, Weinberg said.

Luzerne County had the most cases at 58 and Carbon had only two, well below the state average.

But while the numbers are high enough to draw the attention of the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, they are too few to provide the basis for a study.

Scientists from the registry and Health Department urged Baddick to get the oncologists he says have told him about the disease to contact state officials.

Registry scientists say they want to find out why so many people in Schuylkill and Luzerne counties have the disease but can’t begin a study until they have a significant number of cases. They would need to study the people who have polycythemia vera to find common denominators before investigating possible causes, said agency epidemiologist Aisha Jumaan.

Baddick said there are eight cancer cases among the 300 residents of Ben Titus Road, and there are likely more because some people travel out of the area for medical treatment. Many, he said, have been told by their doctors that their cancers were caused by exposure to chemicals.

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