Wellington has been designated as a disease cluster area for multiple sclerosis, according to a report released yesterday by the National Resources Defense Council.

A 1998 study by state and local health departments found residents of Wellington were three times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis than the rest of the country, the report said. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry found that there had been a release of chemical contaminants in the environment surrounding a former foundry, the LESCO facility, and the still operating Forest City Technologies plant.

The LESCO facility was a distributor and formulator of fertilizer, and Forest City Technologies manufactures seals and gaskets for the automotive industry. Although the causes of MS are unknown, the disease is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Wellington is one of four confirmed disease clusters in Ohio. A fifth potential cluster is currently under investigation. The others are Clyde (childhood cancer), Marysville (leukemia), Marion (leukemia) and Middletown (brain cancer), which is still being investigated.

According to a news release from Sen. Sherrod Brown, in light of this report, he is cosponsoring the Strengthening Protections for Children and Communities From Disease Clusters Act, legislation aimed at providing more federal resources to disease cluster areas. Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on disease clusters and environmental health.

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