The Acreage cancer cluster: Florida DOH and DEP halting inquiry on brain cancer
Weitz & Luxenberg is no longer accepting cases concerning the Acreage cancer cluster. This information is provided for informational purposes only.
Our attorneys call for continued testing of The Acreage Cancer Cluster
Our firm is deeply troubled to learn that the health officials searching for the cause behind a cancer cluster in The Acreage area of Palm Beach County, Florida, have halted their testing. The firm, together with local co-counsel Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley P.A., issued a written plea to the Florida Departments of Health and Environmental Protection on August 20, 2010, requesting those agencies continue their work. However, the DEP and DOH have indicated they have no plans to continue the study.
Lemuel Srolovic, an environmental attorney with Weitz & Luxenberg said, “Our clients and other community residents need to know why children in The Acreage, Florida have been stricken with brain cancer at an alarming rate. It is time for concerned citizens to join together and petition their State officials to use all available methods to find an answer to that question.”
Health department experts conducted an analysis of 13 families whose children and teenagers have been diagnosed with cancer of the brain or central nervous system. The state declared the cluster in February 2010, after finding four cases of pediatric brain cancer from 2005 to 2007, when one or two would be considered normal. To date, that cancer cluster designation has not been lifted by health officials.
“There are four primary doorways through which harmful substances could enter the Acreage community,” Srolovic stated, “groundwater, soil brought in the raise the low-lying properties, air and surface canal water. The state’s sampling has looked at the groundwater and soil fill, but air and the canals have not been similarly sampled,” Srolovic concluded. “The state’s investigation cannot be considered complete until at least the air, and the many canals running through the community, have been sampled for toxic and hazardous substances.”
Available environmental statistics and community information support the call for more a thorough Acreage cancer study. Air emissions data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reveals that in 2002, the most recent year for which the data is reported, a total of 40 reported facilities in Palm Beach County emitted 5.1 million pounds of 188 chemicals considered hazardous air pollutants.
The canals are no less of a concern considering that they are periodically treated with pesticides and that a significant number of Acreage residents draw water from them for irrigation purposes. Additionally, children often play around the canals banks when the water is low. When the water is high, such as it is likely to be in the presence of the tropical storm striking this week, the canals flood the yards and, sometimes, the well heads.
Mara Hatfield, of Counsel to Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, West Palm Beach, FL said, "In short, testing to determine whether the canals and air are portals for exposure to harmful chemicals is warranted. In light of the alarming increased incidence of pediatric brain tumors, the community expects and deserves stability--both in the peace of mind that their property is safe and in gaining lasting confidence that it will retain its property value. Only after all of the exposure pathways are tested and determined to be safe should they expect that stability to occur."
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