By Chris Parker
The Morning Call Inc., Copyright 2006

October 7, 2006

People have suspected for years that industrial chemicals leaching from the McAdoo Associates Superfund site in Kline Township have caused illnesses, including a rare blood disease , in residents.

Now the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will team up with the state Health Department to study people in Schuylkill, Luzerne and Carbon counties who have been diagnosed with the blood-thickening disease polycythemia vera , U.S. Sen. Arlen G. Specter, R-Pa., announced during a visit to the site Friday.

The study will examine the cases, how they were diagnosed and registered with government agencies, the characteristics of the people who have been diagnosed and where they live, and how that is related to possible environmental exposures.

The agencies will look at the cases and ”see if there is any connection with environmental conditions,” said Thomas Sinks, deputy director of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Center for Disease Control.

The agency, the ”public health side of the Superfund Act” works with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Sinks said.

One question the study aims to answer is how many people actually have the disease. The state has required doctors to report cases only since 2001.

But he cautioned the study probably will not identify the cause of the disease.

Some people believe polycythemia vera is linked to industrial chemicals, and Specter said the ”area has been a dumping ground” for pollutants. One doctor, Peter Baddick of West Penn Township, said an oncologist has told him there have been at least 90 confirmed cases of polycythemia vera in the area around the McAdoo site.

Baddick said he wants the study to include leukemia and other blood cancers.

Several residents of Ben Titus Road, downhill from the McAdoo site, say they have the disease.

The Health Department has logged 82 cases of polycythemia vera diagnosed from 2001 to 2004