Cases are mounting in Johnson County Indiana. Recently, fifteen children have been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, one struck down by glioblastoma and four have come down with a rare bone cancer Ewing’s sarcoma. Since 2008, at least 58 pediatric cancer cases have been reported, that puts Johnson County in the 80th percentile among counties nationwide (National Cancer Institute).
Decades ago an industrial site in Franklin, Johnson County’s seat recently identified a carcinogenic plume spreading underground, releasing toxic vapors of trichloroethylene (TCE) into the community.
TCE is a colorless fluid with a subtle, sweet odor used by 80% of the nation’s dry cleaners and other factories. Decades ago TCE contamination was traced to a former factory that discharged industrial wastewater into a municipal sewer. The Franklin site was cleaned up. Now this.
Residents are calling for a federal investigation lead by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General. This situation has similar warning signs that the citizens of Flint Michigan are still being subject to unsafe drinking water.
The E.P.A. has confirmed that the chemicals were present near the Franklin site have tested and reported air quality issues. Tests that have been conducted, although a only a few homes, have detected TCE levels of more than 18 times federal limits. The agency said its testing is continuing.
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There is limited research linking pediatric cancers to TCE, however this doesn’t mean the association does not exist.
Reports of communities around the country are experiencing water contamination. In the fair city of Newburgh, NY the drinking water has been contaminated by PFOS for decades. And in the small village of Hoosick Falls, 30 miles northeast of Albany, NY residents drinking water has also been poisoned with PFOA.
Experts warn that water contamination can lead to cancer, gastrointestinal diseases and developmental delays in children. Many of the nation’s largest city systems are outdated and are failing EPA water safety standards potentially exposing tens of millions of Americans to dangerous contaminants.
These trends are unfortunately on the rise. Don’t assume your drinking water is safe. Have it tested.
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