Feds delay release of illness cluster study results
State wants time to brings health workers up to speed on findings.

By Chris Parker
Of The Morning Call
September 27, 2007

A planned announcement of results of a yearlong study to determine whether there is a higher than usual incidence of a rare blood disorder in Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties has been pushed back until mid-October, said a spokesman for the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

The announcement had been planned for Saturday, but will wait until the state Department of Health, which joined the federal agency in the study, informs its employees of details of the findings, said agency spokesman Charles Green.

The study did find that the rate of a rare blood disease in the counties is higher than normal, said ATSDR toxicologist Vince Seaman.

But he cautioned that the investigation involved only a small group of people, a ”significant number” of whom lacked the gene mutation present in almost everyone who has the illness.

The study was prompted by residents who have suspected for years that industrial chemicals leaching from the McAdoo Associates Superfund site in Kline Township have caused illnesses, including the blood-thickening disease polycythemia vera. Scientists have yet to pin down what causes the illness.

”We believe there is a higher incidence of polycythemia vera in this area than there should be,” Seaman has said earlier.