U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown today called for increased federal involvement in investigating the childhood cancer cluster in Clyde, OH in order to provide answers to children and families in the area. Brown wrote to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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 children and families of Clyde deserve answers," Brown said. "Ohio's state agencies have worked in earnest to determine the cause of the high-rates of childhood cancer in Clyde, but more needs to be done to support their efforts. Increased resources, that only the federal government can provide, should be utilized in order to determine what is going on in and around Clyde -- we must do everything within our power to figure out why so many children are being diagnosed with cancer in this 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 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.
The Ohio EPA, ODH, and SCHD 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.