US study sees 42 disease clusters in 13 states

WASHINGTON, March 28 (Reuters) – There are 42 so-called
disease clusters in 13 U.S. states, showing incidence of
numerous types of cancer, birth defects and other chronic
illnesses, the Natural Resources Defense Council reported on
Monday.

A study by NRDC and the National Disease Clusters Alliance,
drawn from research by federal, state and local officials and
peer-reviewed academic studies, urges federal coordination and
support to help confirm these clusters and determine their
causes.

“The faster we can identify such clusters, and the sooner
we can figure out the causes, the better we can protect
residents living in the affected communities,” NRDC’s Dr. Gina
Solomon, co-author of the study, said in a statement.

The study looked at clusters that have occurred since 1976
when Congress passed the Toxic Substance Control Act, which was
meant to regulate the use of toxic chemicals in industrial,
commercial and consumer products.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control defines a cluster
investigation as “a review of an unusual number, real or
perceived, of health events (such as reports of cancer) grouped
together in a time and location.”

Monday’s study is the first of several that are planned. It
examined clusters in Texas, California, Michigan, North
Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Delaware, Louisiana,
Montana, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas.

Only one of the 42 clusters — in Libby, Montana — showed
a specific source for chemical contamination: asbestos. In the
other clusters, NRDC saw signs that documented exposure to
toxic chemicals hurt the people who lived nearby.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has
scheduled a hearing for Tuesday on disease clusters and
environmental health.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

US study sees 42 disease clusters in 13 states