Disease clusters on the rise

March 30, 2011

Erin Brockovich

Areas with higher numbers of cancers, birth defects and illnesses are increasing nationwide along with demands the government needs to take action, according to a report released Monday by Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Disease Cluster Alliance. [CaliforniaWatch]

Researchers have identified 44 communities in 13 states with higher numbers of diseases, eight of those communities are in California. A coalition of environmental groups says the government’s 1976 Toxics Substance Control Act is weak and ineffective, and their report indicates more stringent regulations are needed.

“We think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s not that there are only eight clusters in California. There are probably more.”

The California Department of Public Health identified a birth defects cluster in Kettleman City from 2007 to 2010, according to a report by the national Disease Cluster Alliance.

“Children were born with cleft palates and other severe birth defects such as facial deformities, heart and brain problems, and limb defects,” the report says. “Four of those children have since died. Many residents blame the hazardous waste disposal facility, the largest in the western United States, that is just 3.5 miles southwest of town.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report saying there was no link between birth defects in Kettleman City and polychlorinated biphenyls that are found in high levels in the city’s dump.

When a community is struck by abnormally high rates of an illness, people naturally ask questions,” said Gina Solomon one of the report’s authors and a senior researcher at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Unfortunately, often clusters don’t get fully investigated; or when they do, often the investigations come up with clues but no clear cause.”

Solomon, along with consumer advocate Erin Brockovich, testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairs the committee. She introduced legislation that would help communities with suspected disease clusters determine whether environmental contaminants were contributing to illness.

The report also notes a confirmed cluster of childhood leukemia and lymphoma in Montecito from 1981 to 1988 in Montecito in Santa Barbara County. Even though the cause was never pinpointed, the Department of Health Services did find elevated levels of electromagnetic fields coming from a transformer near the elementary school.

Other California communities cited in the report include Carlsbad, Earlimart, McFarland, Oroville, Rosamond, and neighborhoods around Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.


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4 Comments

  1. mbactivist1 says:

    This part of the article certainly caught my attention:

    “The report also notes a confirmed cluster of childhood leukemia and lymphoma in Montecito from 1981 to 1988 in Montecito in Santa Barbara County. Even though the cause was never pinpointed, the Department of Health Services did find elevated levels of electromagnetic fields coming from a transformer near the elementary school.”

    Then, there is the study, recently in the news, that conclusively proved that cell phone use causes changes in brain metabolism.

    How much more evidence to we need to ban “smart meters” entirely? Shall we just wait until thousands of kids and adults get sick with potentially-fatal illnesses and then ban them?

    (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
      • rferris says:

        cell phone use affects the brain to the extent that some of the small amounts of energy released are absorbed by tissue and converted into extremely small amounts of heat ( think of a microwave that uses only a milliwatt) If this is a big concern to you then be sure you wear a hat when you go outdoors because the sun is way more dangerous.. Smart meters put out less than 10% of your cell phones and you don’t hold them against your head….soooo as the square of the distance rule applies regarding the radiating output, smart meters are probably as dangerous to your health as radio and TV stations.

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. willie says:

    THIS SAY A WHOLE LOT
    But don’t let it slip your notice that all these problems were created/ paid for by tax payers/ consumers
    And the solution/temporary remedies will be paid for by tax payers / consumers.
    It goes on and on.
    A while back, I read an article about a Native American medicine woman who claims that the medicinal herbs used in the past to heal her people are extinct because of polution and the type of illnesses have become more or too complicate.

    (5) 13 Total Votes - 9 up - 4 down

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