Radon occurrence in groundwater from 16 geologic units in Pennsylvania

Evaluation of radon occurrence in groundwater from 16 geologic units in Pennsylvania, 1986–2015, with application to potential radon exposure from groundwater and indoor air
Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5018

“Results from 1,041 groundwater samples collected during 1986‒2015 from 16 geologic units in Pennsylvania, associated with 25 or more groundwater samples with concentrations of radon-222, were evaluated in an effort to identify variations in radon-222 activities or concentrations and to classify potential radon-222 exposure from groundwater and indoor air. Radon-222 is hereafter referred to as “radon.” Radon concentrations in groundwater greater than or equal to the proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL) for public-water supply systems of 300 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) were present in about 87 percent of the water samples, whereas concentrations greater than or equal to the proposed alternative MCL (AMCL) for public water-supply systems of 4,000 pCi/L were present in 14 percent. The highest radon concentrations were measured in groundwater from the schists, gneisses, and quartzites of the Piedmont Physiographic Province.

In this study, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, groundwater samples were aggregated among 16 geologic units in Pennsylvania to identify units with high median radon concentrations in groundwater. Graphical plots and statistical tests were used to determine variations in radon concentrations in groundwater and indoor air. Median radon concentrations in groundwater samples and median radon concentrations in indoor air samples within the 16 geologic units were classified according to proposed and recommended regulatory limits to explore potential radon exposure from groundwater and indoor air. All of the geologic units, except for the Allegheny (Pa) and Glenshaw (Pcg) Formations in the Appalachian Plateaus Physiographic Province, had median radon concentrations greater than the proposed EPA MCL of 300 pCi/L, and the Peters Creek Schist (Xpc), which is in the Piedmont Physiographic Province, had a median radon concentration greater than the EPA proposed AMCL of 4,000 pCi/L. Median concentrations of radon in groundwater and indoor air were determined to differ significantly among the geologic units (Kruskal-Wallis test, significance probability, p<0.001), and Tukey’s test indicated that radon concentrations in groundwater and indoor air in the Peters Creek Schist (Xpc) were significantly higher than those in the other units. Also, the Peters Creek Schist (Xpc) was determined to be the area with highest potential of radon exposure from groundwater and indoor air and one of two units with the highest percentage of population assumed to be using domestic self-supplied water (81 percent), which puts the population at greater potential of exposure to radon from groundwater.

Potential radon exposure determined from classification of geologic units by median radon concentrations in groundwater and indoor air according to proposed and recommended regulatory limits is useful for drawing general conclusions about the presence, variation, and potential radon exposure in specific geologic units, but the associated data and maps have limitations. The aggregated indoor air radon data have spatial accuracy limitations owing to imprecision of geo-coded test locations. In addition, the associated data describing geologic units and the public water supplier’s service areas have spatial and interpretation accuracy limitations. As a result, data and maps associated with this report are not recommended for use in predicting individual concentrations at specific sites nor for use as a decision-making tool for property owners to decide whether to test for radon concentrations at specific locations. Instead, the data and maps are meant to promote awareness regarding potential radon exposure in Pennsylvania and to point out data gaps that exist throughout the State.”

Link to Study 

Bacterial contamination in private water wells send thousands of people hurling to the ER

“It may not have been bad shrimp or dirty lettuce that kept you up all night. A recent study shows that in North Carolina, microbes in drinking water from private wells are responsible for estimated 29,200 emergency room visits for acute GI illnesses each year. That number accounts for nearly all visits of that type and cause.

This is a particularly serious problem in North Carolina, where more than a third of all residents — 3.3 million — rely on private wells for their drinking water. These wells, which can source their water from beneath the ground, a spring or a river, are largely unregulated.

(This is why contaminants from coal ash, such as arsenic, lead and chromium 6, which have even more harmful long-term health effects, are of such concern — and why widespread testing is necessary.)

An article in this month’s Environmental Health Perspectives — among its co-authors is Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson of UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health — concludes that people on private wells are more likely to get sick from their water than those on community systems, such as municipal utilities.


From the Study

The presence of total coliforms in groundwater indicates that microorganisms from surface water have been able to reach the aquifer and a more rigorous monitoring should begin for other microorganisms (pathogenic) which might also reach the aquifer. When fecal indicators are detected, anything can happen, and will happen, with potential serious public health implications.”


To learn or read more – Go to  Article

More importantly to Act Now and Get Your Water Tested.

Monitoring your homes health and the hazards in your community.


Reduce Exposure to Toxic Chemicals and Compounds

“The Tendr coalition includes pediatric neurologists, several minority physician associations, nurses, learning disability advocacy groups, environmental organizations, and the Endocrine Society, which has compiled several scientific statements documenting adverse health effects linked to endocrine-disrupting chemicals that mimic or disrupt the hormones in our own bodies. Dozens of scientists and health providers have signed the statement, as has Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program.”

How to Limit Your Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

A coalition of doctors, scientists and health advocates says you may be able to reduce your overall exposure to toxic chemicals by taking the following steps:

  • Reduce pesticide exposure by choosing organic strawberries, apples, nectarines, green beans, celery and spinach.    (This may be expensive, you may want to consider growing your own or at least washing and rinsing the items or buying from a USA Source).
  • Choose seafood low in mercury like salmon, sardines, and trout.  (Limit the intake of bottom feeders).
  • Breast-feed your baby if you can; if you use formula, make sure the water is lead-free.  (Lead-free water may require the installation of a point of use water treatment system).
  • When buying furniture with padding like a high chair, sofa or mattress, ask for products that are labeled free of toxic flame retardants.
  • Avoid exposing the family to tobacco smoke, wood smoke from fireplaces and wood stoves, idling car exhaust, cooking fumes from stoves and grills.
  • If you’re putting in a new floor, choose either phthalate-free vinyl flooring or wood, bamboo or cork. (Check on the sources of the materials).
  • Avoid plastic toys, backpacks, lunch boxes and school supplies made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which can be a source of phthalates.  (This may be tough- First Choice Buy Made in the USA).
  • Choose fragrance-free personal care products to avoid phthalates in fragrances .   (Try naturally scent oils)
  • When using stool softeners, laxatives and other time-release capsules, look for phthalates on the list of inactive ingredients so you can avoid them.   (How about eat more fiber).
  • Use nontoxic alternatives to pesticides in your yard and on your pets.   (or use them as directed)
  • Screen your house for lead. If it was built before 1978, lead paint may place your family at risk. If paint is chipping or peeling, it can build up in house dust and stick to children’s hands.   (Lead Paint Testing and Comprehensive Water Testing)
  • Reduce household dust that may contain lead, flame retardants, phthalates and pesticides. Take shoes off before you come into the house and use a doormat to trap dirt outside and inside the doorway. Damp mop, use a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner and dust with a microfiber cloth.   (Least us not forget Mold and Radon)


Know Your H20 – Get a Community Hazard Report

Groundwater Availability Analysis and Groundwater Quality Wayne County, Pennsylvania

The Wayne Tomorrow Action Committee invited the Keystone Clean Water Team to compile and develop a presentation on the general water quality, water availability, and some general recommendations related to groundwater resources in Wayne County, Pennsylvania.   The Keystone Clean Water Team had Mr. Brian Oram, a local water quality expert and professional geologist, review the information and conduct the presentation for the Keystone Clean Water Team.    During the education session, the members of the Wayne Tomorrow Action Committee and the Sustainability Committee for Wayne Tomorrow was present.   A copy of the presentation Wayne County Planning for Our Future is available.    For this training event, the following sponsors were recognized:

BF. Environmental Consultants
Water Research Center
Quantum Laboratories

Key Topics:

1. Private Wells are not regulated in Pennsylvania and there are NO minimum construction standards.
2. About 50% of private wells in Pennsylvania appear to have at least one water quality problem and causes the water to NOT meet the PADEP Drinking Water Standards.
3. Common problem is the pH of the water is low and the water is corrosive.   Corrosive water can increase the concentration of trace metals like copper/lead/zinc (plumbing and fixtures) and iron/manganese/aluminum/arsenic (aquifer).4. From the USGS Study – 97 % of private wells have radon over 300 pCi/L,  6 Percent have elevated arsenic, well water with a pH of over 7.8 may be associated with the presence of methane, arsenic, fluoride, sodium, bromide, lithium, boron, and chloride.  (Speaker note:  Well water with a pH of 8.0 or more may be influenced by naturally occurring saline water).
5. Analysis – The County could consider using the GIS System to conduct Groundwater Vulnerability Analysis, Availability Analysis, and Identify the location of historic or current hazards of concern.
6. In general, Wayne County can use a basic water budgeting analysis to evaluate project sustainability and if possible promote the use of on-site well and septic system with proper installation and maintenance.  The example demonstrated how projects could be analyzed to determine the estimated development capacity of a project based on water availability.
7. The Organization or County can not allocate water – this is the role of the Delaware River Basin Commission.
8. Wayne County is appears that 35 to 45 % of rainfall contributes to baseflow for the region.
9. Advisable to develop a County or Local Agency – Well Construction Standard.
10. Educational Materials are Available for PA from the Keystone Clean Water Team. The Keystone Clean Water Team is a 501c3 and donations are appreciated.

Everything we do began with an idea.

We have offered “Free” Assistance to this effort, but if you are a private well owner that needs assistance we are happy to help.

We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.  Get YOUR WATER Tested – Discounted Screening Tests !

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.  Follow us on Twitter 

Keystone Clean Water Team is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.    Unsolicited donations are appreciated (Helps us complete our mission), but we also do local educational workshops and local cellphone/small electronic recycling programs. If you would like to set up a program to help recycle cellphones at an event, business, or other organization.  Through our program we can recycle  cell phones, iPods, game systems, and small digital cameras.  If your interested, please contact us.  Our new PSAs.

Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organization).  Keystone Clean Water Team!

ATSDR Initial Study Finds Elevated Levels of Radon Gas, Radium in Polycythemia Vera Study Area in Pennsylvania

ATLANTA (7/2014)—Some homes in Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill counties of Pennsylvania have elevated levels of radon gas in indoor air and radium in soils, according to a health consultation released today by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Researchers were unable to determine if a cluster of cases of Polycythemia Vera (PV) in people living in the counties is related to exposures to the substances.

The report provides an analysis of radiologic sampling information researchers reviewed to learn more about the possible cluster of PV cases in northeastern Pennsylvania. PV is a rare form of cancer of the blood that causes the body to make too many red blood cells. It occurs more often in men than women, and is rare in patients under age 40.

“Based on analysis of the samples, ATSDR considers the exposures to radon gas in indoor air at these homes to be of public health concern and encourages residents living in the study area to have their homes tested,” said Lora Werner, Director, ATSDR Region III. “The elevated levels of radium in soils are not considered to be a health risk but may be worthy of further study.”

At the request of ATSDR, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) collected and analyzed environmental samples within the tri-county area and ATSDR evaluated the possible health effects of exposure to the radiological elements in the samples.

The ATSDR report also found:

  • Some houses in the study area had elevated levels of radon gas in indoor air. Radon gas was also found in the private well water of some homes.
  • Soils from the study area had slightly elevated levels of radium.
  • Without additional information, ATSDR cannot determine if the cluster of cases of PV disease in the tri-county area is related to the radiological exposures observed in the environmental sampling information.

This report is part of a larger investigation of the cluster of cases of PV in northeast Pennsylvania. Overall, there are 18 projects in four areas for investigation: epidemiology, genetics, toxicology, and environmental analysis. The findings of these projects will provide information about PV and other blood disorders, as well as share information on environmental investigations in the study area.

ATSDR recommends:

  • All residents in the study area should have their homes tested for radon gas. Houses with elevated radon levels should be retested. If a home is retested and elevated radon levels continue, residents should contact the state of Pennsylvania radon program hotline at 1-800-237-2366 and request additional information on how to reduce the radon levels in the home.
  • People in homes with high levels of radon in their drinking water should contact the PADEP Radon Program for assistance. Home water supplies can be treated to reduce radon levels.

The health consultation report on radon gas and radium in the PV study area is available at:www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/polycythemia_vera.

For more information, please call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). Please request information about: “Review of Radiological Data Measured in the Polycythemia Vera Investigation Study Area in Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill Counties.

Our Radon Portal – Links to Air and Water Testing -Outside of Study Area –http://www.water-research.net/index.php/radon


ATSDR, a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, evaluates the potential for adverse human health effects of exposure to hazardous substances in the environment.

ATSDR/CDC Northeast PA Polycythemia Vera (PV) Investigation Projects Update


In 2004, using state cancer registry records, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) found a PV cluster in northeast Pennsylvania. PV is part of a disease group called myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), which is a group of slow-growing blood cancers where the bone marrow makes too many red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets.

In 2006, ATSDR was asked to help study PV patterns in the area. From 2007-2008, ATSDR reviewed medical records, conducted genetic testing, and confirmed this PV cluster.

In 2009, Congress funded ATSDR to continue this investigation. ATSDR is overseeing 18 projects with PADOH, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and various universities and private organizations. These projects are based on recommendations from an expert panel. The panel identified four areas for investigation; epidemiology, genetics, toxicology, and environmental studies.

As of October 1, 2013, all of the contracts for the 18 projects have ended.  The last to end was the tissue bank contract, which closed for recruitment of new tissue donations from the PA tri-county study area in May 2014.  At this time, no new samples will be added from the tri-county study area, but the geographically identified (but de-identified in terms of personal information) donations from the tri-county study area will continue to be available for researchers to access via this national tissue bank established at the Myleloproliferative Disease Research Consortium (MPD-RC).  You can continue to follow the work of the overall MPD-Research Consortium on their website at: http://www.mpd-rc.org/home.php.


The graphic with this email provides this summary as of August 2014.  I’ve attached this graphic both as a “snapshot” in the body of this email, as well as a pdf attachment.  Projects highlighted in “green” in the attached graphic have work complete and a final product available (if applicable).  Projects highlighted in “yellow” have final products in progress and undergoing clearance.  Projects highlighted in “red” have final products that are anticipated but not yet started.

As of August 5, 2014, work is complete and a final product is available (if applicable) for projects.  We are happy to announce that one new project (#16/17, PADEP’s environmental testing) moved from yellow to green since my May update; we now have a factsheet and final ATSDR health consultation report evaluating an initial set of radiological environmental sampling results from the study area.  At the request of ATSDR, PADEP collected and analyzed environmental samples within the tri-county area and ATSDR evaluated the possible health effects of exposure to the radiological elements in the samples.  Environmental samples from the cluster area were collected as a component of the overall research investigation into the PV disease cluster:

  • Indoor air was analyzed for radon.
  • Soil, sediment and water samples were analyzed for metals, organic compounds, and radioactive substances.

This ATSDR public health report focuses on an initial set of the radiological environmental sampling information.  Additional reports evaluating other environmental and health information from the PV investigation will be released at a later date.

The ATSDR report found:

  • Some houses in the study area had elevated levels of radon gas in indoor air. Radon gas was also found in the private well water of some homes.
  • Soils from the study area had slightly elevated levels of radium.
  • Without additional information, ATSDR cannot determine if the cluster of cases of PV disease in the tri-county area is related to the radiological exposures observed in the environmental sampling information.


In this report, ATSDR recommends:

  • All residents in the study area should have their homes tested for radon gas. Houses with elevated radon levels should be retested. If a home is retested and elevated radon levels continue, residents should contact the state of Pennsylvania radon program hotline at 1-800-237-2366 and request additional information on how to reduce the radon levels in the home.
  • People in homes with high levels of radon in their drinking water should contact the PADEP Radon Program for assistance. Home water supplies can be treated to reduce radon levels.
  • ATSDR recommends that in those areas where radium in soils seems to be elevated, additional sampling may be helpful to further understand this exposure pathway. ATSDR will discuss the potential for a future collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey to further evaluate levels of radiological contaminants in environmental media in the study area.


These documents are available at:



Final products for another 9 projects are still in progress and remain coded as yellow.  Final products for 2projects are anticipated but not yet started and remain coded as red.

For more information:

Visit ATSDR’s web page on PV: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/polycythemia_vera/index.html

Call ATSDR’s toll-free PV information line: 866-448-0242 or email jcx0@cdc, which will connect you to Dr. Elizabeth Irvin-Barnwell, ATSDR Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences.

Contact Lora Siegmann Werner, ATSDR Region 3, by phone at 215-814-3141 or by email at lkw9@cdc.gov.


Other Resources

1. Radiological Testing and Screening – http://www.water-research.net/index.php/radiological-contaminants

2. Radiological – Testing Parameters – http://www.water-research.net/watertest/radiologicalwatertesting.pdf

3. Radon in Water


EPA recommends radon testing in January

Protect your family from the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.

PHILADELPHIA (January 8, 2013) – January is national Radon Action Month and the
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency encourages everyone to test their homes for radon. January is an especially good time to test homes and schools because windows and doors are closed tightly and people spend more time indoors.

Unsafe levels of radon can lead to serious illness. The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States with an estimated 21,000 deaths a year. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. By making simple fixes in a home or building people can lower their health risks from radon.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas; so testing is the only way to know if radon is present in your home or school. Test kits are available in home improvement centers and hardware stores and costs approximately $20. The kits are simple to use with easy testing and mailing instructions.

Make the commitment to protect your family. Test for radon in air / water . Fix the problem if you find elevated radon levels. Save a life!

For more information about radon and radon testing see: http://www.epa.gov/radon/

Radon and other air/water testing kits

Website Provided for Educational Purpose.

Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

 Carbon County Groundwater Guardians on Facebook
More Educational Materials Private Well Owner.org

Officials: Threat of radon high in state


By NAOMI CREASON The Sentinel, Carlisle
January 31, 2012

There are a number of concerns when buying or owning a home, but the state Department of Environmental Protection is hoping homeowners pay attention to a specific odorless and radioactive gas — radon.

Bob Lewis, the program manager for DEP’s Radon Division, finds that most people don’t really think of radon, even though Pennsylvania residents should worry about the levels in their home.

“Pennsylvania could be one of the worst states in the country,” Lewis said. “There’s a handful of states that show high levels of radon, and we’re up there. I think about 49 of the 67 counties in the state are EPA zoned 1 counties. It’s just a characteristic of our geography. It’s easy for gas to migrate through the ground.”

The federal Environmental Protection Agency splits the country into three zones of radon levels, with Zone 1 being the highest and Zone 3 having the lowest levels. Pennsylvania just happens to find itself in a Zone 1 hotspot, where levels of radon are most often above the acceptable limit. Not all of Pennsylvania is Zone 1.

Radon is a gas that rises from the soil. Radon levels are low enough outside that no one really has to worry about the risk being outside. However, radon can build up in enclosed spaces, such as homes, and increase the level of indoor radon to dangerous levels.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and the leading cause in non-smokers. Radon is expected to be the cause of 20,000 lung cancer deaths every year, according to the DEP.

“Radon affects the lungs,” Lewis said. “Because it’s a gas, you breathe it in. The particles lodge on the lining tissue in the tracheal/bronchial part of the lung, and those particles are radioactive. It gives off radioactive emissions in the lung, which affects the DNA.”

There isn’t a set exposure level of radon that means all residents will get lung cancer. Those who smoke are much more likely to get lung cancer when being additionally exposed to radon, while it could be hit-and-miss for non-smokers who live in homes with high levels of radon, especially depending on how long a person has lived in that home.

“The best possible thing you can do is test your house,” Lewis said. “It’s so easy to do. You can get a test kit that costs $25 or $30 from a home center and test your house. We generally test in the basement, so you get the worst-case scenario number. People don’t realize they could test for it. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and that seems to be the biggest misconception.”

Overexposure to radon: Second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.

Contact: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543, smith.bonnie@epa.gov

Overexposure to radon: Second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.

Free television, print and audio pieces available for January – Radon Action Month

PHILADELPHIA ( January 5, 2012) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared January as Radon Action Month as part of the agency’s on-going efforts to make families aware of the health hazard presented by radon in homes.

EPA has created several free, publicly-available graphics about radon, and a public service announcement campaign for print, television, and radio at http://www.epa.gov/radon encouraging families to test their homes for radon.

EPA’s newest campaign is Living Healthy & Green.

Radon enters homes from underground. So, living healthy and green starts from the ground up. By preventing radon from entering homes, every family can have safer, healthier air to breathe.

EPA developed Living Healthy & Green to educate the public about how easy it can be to mitigate radon. Part of the campaign features former NFL kicker Fuad Reveiz, now a home builder who uses radon-resistant construction and encourages others to do the same.

The 30 second television and radio pieces are available copyright free. The campaign is available in multiple media formats and sizes for newspapers, magazines, billboards and the web in both English and Spanish. Elements can be viewed and ordered on line at www.epapsa.com/campaigns/greensox/.

Audio podcasts about radon provide interview topic ideas, see: http://www.epa.gov/region3/multimedia/frame1contents/audio_topics.html.

Experts discuss likely sources of the rare blood illnesses in the three-county area

Thursday, June 16, 2011
By DONALD R. SERFASS dserfass@tnonline.com

Is it radon, fly ash or something else?

DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS Dr. Jeanine Buchanich, University of Pittsburgh, stresses the importance of participating in studies aimed at targeting the cause of a rare blood disease. Buchanich was one of several speakers at a public forum held Wednesday at the Tamaqua Community Center. Also shown are Tom Murphy, Hometown, health and environmental advocate, and Dr. Henry Cole, Maryland.

Is radon the culprit in an unusually high number of cases of a rare blood illness in Schuylkill, Carbon and Luzerne counties? Or is it fly ash? Or maybe something else?

Those possibilities are being examined, along with a variety of other scenarios as part of $8.8M in research and investigations.

At Wednesday’s public meeting, sponsored by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Tri-County Polycythemia Vera (PV) Community Advisory Committee, an expert said significantly high levels of radon have been seen in studies here.

Robert K. Lewis, manager, hazardous sites cleanup, Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), told 50 in attendance at the Tamaqua Community Center that one environmental analysis of air quality has turned up an area of concern.

“We sampled radon in homes. Fifty percent of homes were 4 picocuries or higher,” noted Lewis, who explained that 48 different locations were tested. One area tested was where a high incidence of PV cases has been identified.

“We were requested to sample along Ben Titus Road,” said Lewis.

In terms of water analysis, Lewis said testing was done on “a combination of well water and commercial water supplies such as the Tamaqua Water Authority.”

Lewis said results indicate that Tamaqua residential drinking water appears to have no problem with contaminants. However, “we didn’t (test for) radon in water,” he added. That is one area that would need to be looked at, said Lewis.

Lewis indicated that drinking water testing turned up only two lead results and two nitrate.

“The department doesn’t feel that drinking water is a problem here, but we should go back and look for radon.”

One expert said the entire effort is multipronged.

“You have an interdisciplinary group of scientists working on these studies,” said Dr. Henry Cole of Maryland, who has been working with Tom Murphy, Hometown, a founder of the CAC group.

The meeting featured updates by the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection, the agency sampling drinking water, dust and soil at the homes of study participants.

In addition, workers are testing water and sediment at the McAdoo Superfund site and cogeneration plants in the area.

A team from Drexel University is trying to identify risk factors for the disease, while researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are studying the frequency of PV cases.

Research updates target PV incidence

The session provided a broad range of updates from a variety of sources:

Ÿ Elizabeth Irvin-Barnwell of the ATSDR said a total of 1,150 persons were screened for the JAK2 mutation, found in those who develop PV. In addition, 3,500 DNA samples were analyzed for the mutation.

“We can link each person’s test with demographic factors … it’s a groundbreaking study,” said Irvin-Barnwell.

Ÿ Dr. Lora Siegmann Werner of the ATSDR outlined initiatives in health education, such as developing literature to address “What does it mean if you have PV?” A comprehensive list of physicians has been completed because there is great need to get information to doctors, she said. She also lauded work by the CAC support group and Michelle Greshner.

Ÿ Dr. Jeanine Buchanich, University of Pittsburgh said, “We’re working with the Department of Health to do an expansion of the original study.” She said 372 cases are included in the study, all from the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry. She said as many folks as possible should take part.

“We’re hoping CAC members will convey how important it is to participate in the study. The success of the study depends on getting people to participate.”

Ÿ Dr. Carol Ann Gross-Davis of Drexel University reported on a case control study of 147 people.

“Of the cases, we have 24 consented who have PV. We had 10 percent who declined to participate, which is their right,” she said, adding, “We’re doing it through the Geisinger system, coordinating through the University of Pittsburgh.”

Ÿ Dr. Jim Logue, Pennsylvania DOH principal investigator for the myeloproliferative neoplasm program, said he’s been involved in cancer analyses since 2004. He announced success with a partnership.

“We secured two contracts with the University of Pittsburgh.”

Ÿ David Marchetto, the department’s program manager, said progress is being made.

“The pieces are coming together,” he said. “We’re working with state, federal and local partners.” Marchetto also said, “Misclassification of the disease is a concern to us. There are cases reported to the cancer registry that aren’t PV, not only here but in southwestern and central Pa. as well.”

Similarly, sometimes PV cases do not get reported, he stated.

It was noted that Dr. Peter Jaran, environmental engineer from New Jersey, will look at groundwater and potential sources of contamination.

Local residents had several questions for the experts.

Irene Genther, a Nesquehoning resident and former educator with extensive background in the sciences, asked for clarification as to whether susceptibility to PV can be attributed to heredity. Irvin-Barnwell said heredity itself isn’t seen as a factor. Still, family history and ethnicity are areas being examined.

Genther advised attendees that contaminants such as fly ash dust and radon aren’t found only in the ground, but are airborne.

Some said a solution isn’t coming fast enough.

“It’s been eight years and we still don’t have an answer,” said PV patient Merle Wertman, Tamaqua. Wertman was on hand with wife Linda. The two have been staying on top of developments with the disease. Wertman was diagnosed in 2003. He has no family history of cancer.

Dr. Cole had words of praise for Murphy, a community volunteer who devotes himself to the role of environmental and health activist.

“Joe has put so much into this,” said Cole. “He’s been the guiding light. He put his whole heart and soul into this.”

Those in attendance gave Murphy a round of applause for his role in coordinating activities of the CAC.