The tragedy of the cancer cluster in Clyde is disturbing, especially to the affected families. Promises from the Ohio EPA and state health department are reassuring, but, in the end, will probably lead to a group of "experts" shrugging their shoulders about the causes.
There are (at least) two reasons why related research will be flawed. The first reason relates to the effects of Endocrine Disrupters, chemicals that affect DNA, and their effect on future generations. Simply put, a first generation is exposed to a hazardous chemical and then begins raising a family. Their children carry a chemically-related genetic flaw that is passed to their children. In the end, the grandchildren of the exposed first generation are negatively affected.
Rachael Carson, in her book "Silent Spring" raised this question in 1962. As a result of her research, DDT was banned and it is fifty years later that the American Bald Eagle is making a comeback. Until detailed information about chemical exposure to prior generations is gathered, the real cause of the cancer cluster may be overlooked.
The second reason research may be flawed relates to "synergy," or the effect of multiple chemicals on an individual. Modern Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) only report the effects of one chemical on an environmental system. Totally ignored are the affects an individual being exposed to a paint solvent at work and being exposed to another chemical released to the atmosphere near their homes or at the workplace.
These two scenarios can offer significant clues to the problem, but until now, have been discounted as "too hard to trace."
Families of the affected children must take the leadership role in collecting information that can be used in the research. Until then the Ohio EPA and State Health Departments will only be chasing their tails.
Mark F. Bohne
The author is a local environmental activist.