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Survey rules out contamination in child cancer cases

Warren-Brown-of-Clyde-Ohio

Warren Brown of Clyde, Ohio, listens during a public meeting about the investigation into childhood cancer in the Clyde area, Dec. 16, 2008, in Clyde, Ohio. Brown's 11-year old daughter, Alexa, died of cancer in 2009.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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CLYDE, Ohio — After years of speculation about the potential environmental cause of a series of child cancer-cluster cases in eastern Sandusky County, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that 13 of 14 sites surveyed were not contaminated and that additional steps would not be pursued at those locations.

“Our investigation is continuing, but in terms of where we go from here, the good news is I’ve heard our technical people say they did not find anything at those 13 sites that is a threat to human health,” said Joshua Singer, a spokesman for the U.S EPA.

Eastern Sandusky Report

The EPA study, which officially began in February, sought to find an environmental cause that might have led to at least 37 childhood cancer cases that occurred within a 12-mile radius of Clyde since 1996. Types of cancer that were contracted included brain and central nervous system tumors, lymphoma, and leukemia, among others.

The regional investigation included Whirlpool Corp.’s factory in Clyde and multiple dumps in the area, and involved gathering soil, air, and water samples. The 14th site, the McGrath Dump Site at 3966 County Rd. in Vickery, was not investigated because access was denied to the U.S. EPA.

Mr. Singer said ongoing investigations are focused on about 90 tips that the agency received to its hotline at 855-838-1304.

For Warren Brown, whose 11-year-old daughter, Alexa, died of cancer in 2009, the results of the study are “not too little, but they are too late.”

“I’m not surprised by their study at all,” Mr. Brown said of the EPA results. “Boots on the ground have to happen when the kids get sick. It doesn’t happen two or three years after the kids get sick. You don’t study an issue when you have 19 or 26 cases in front of you, you study the issue as soon as one or two or three cases are presented.”

Mr. Brown remains adamant that there was an environmental issue that led to the cancer cluster in Sandusky County, but asserts that officials didn’t act soon enough to discover the root cause.

“I will be convinced until I go to heaven and visit with Alexa that the issues that arose that caused all those children to get sick were caused by some environmental anomaly,” he said.

Contact Madeline Buxton at mbuxton@theblade.com or 419-724-6368.

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