WASHINGTON, D.C. – A representative from the office of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will join Clyde-area families at a meeting on Monday to receive an update from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on efforts to study the possible causes of high cancer rates among children in the area. A cancer cluster, as defined by the National Center for Environmental Health at the CDC, is a “greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area over a defined period of time.” Since 1996, at least 37 children within a 12-mile wide circle of Clyde have been diagnosed with brain and central nervous system tumors, lymphoma, leukemia, and other forms of cancer, and four of these children have passed away.
“We’re working to continue to connect families in Clyde and the EPA to get to the root cause of the cancer cluster that has affected too many families and children in this community,” Brown said. “State and local health departments have worked diligently to find solutions, but have been unable to determine any causes thus far. I applaud the EPA for its commitment to finding answers for Clyde-area families. While we are grateful that the incidences of pediatric cancers seem to have declined, there is still work to be done and answers to uncover.”
Last year, Brown wrote to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden requesting that their agencies provide increased federal assistance to the Ohio EPA, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and the Sandusky County Health Department (SCHD).
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Health, and Sandusky County Health Department have worked in cooperation to determine the cause for high rates of childhood cancer in Clyde— by meeting with families of children affected by cancer, analyzing environmental conditions in the region, conducting air monitoring throughout the region, evaluating drinking water quality, evaluating area companies’ compliance with environmental laws, and scouring existing information looking for unusual environmental conditions in the region. Despite these considerable efforts, no cause has been determined.
Brown urged Congress to pass the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. The bill— which passed in 2009— established a national patient registry for pediatric cancer patients at the CDC. It also authorized additional funding for pediatric cancer research at the National Institutes of Health. Although funding has yet to be allocated to the NIH, Sen. Brown continues to fight to secure money for the program. In September 2009, Brown and Sen. Voinovich sent a letter urging Congressional colleagues to direct an additional $10 million for pediatric cancer research.