(NaturalNews) In many states, citizens and scientists are accusing the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of failing to make the connection between public health problems and industrial sources of pollution -- even in the face of scientific evidence.
National coverage of the toxic trailers housing situation in New Orleans and also the suppression of a study on environmental hazards in the Great Lakes has put attention on the agency. There are many groups across the nation that are saying that these are just two examples of cases that illuminate an agency pattern of interference in the health data released to the public.
In many cases, evidence shows that the agency covered up important public health information.
Recently, the nonprofit investigative journalism group, The Center for Public Integrity, published a suppressed study by the ATSDR called "Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern." The report concludes that over 9 million people living in 26 "areas of concern" have elevated health risks associated with exposure to dioxins, pesticides, lead, mercury, PCBs and six other poisonous chemicals. These areas include the major metropolitan areas of Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee.
In many areas, scientists discovered low birth weights, high infant mortality rates, high rates of premature births as well as high rates of death from breast cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer.
was scheduled for release in July 2007. A few days before its scheduled publication, however, the agency withdrew the study.
Similar events occurred last year in Pennsylvania. A study was conducted to analyze the high rates of a very rare form of blood cancer called Polycythemia Vera (PV).
The agency released an abstract in December 2007. It detailed the rate of PV in three counties surrounding the Tamaqua borough. They are at least 4.5 times higher than the national average. The national PV rate is 0.9 in 100,000. The rate of confirmed cases in the three Pennsylvania counties is more than 4 in 100,000. That number is just a representation of patients who are registered with the National Cancer Registry. They were tested for a genetic mutation associated with PV for the study. When data from patients who self-reported being diagnosed with PV is included, the rate increases to approximately 15 times the national average.
The study connects the high PV rates to environmental influences. The study shows that 18 of the 38 patients confirmed to have PV lived within 13 miles of the MacAdoo Associates Superfund Site. They lived in this area for more than five years between the years of 1975 and 1979 when large quantities of toxic chemicals were dumped straight into old mine shafts. Included in those chemicals were heavy metals and low levels of volatile organic compounds that were determined to be contaminating the soil. A clean-up of the site has been underwritten by the EPA.
Officials later stated that the results "were based on an ATSDR analysis that was later determined to be inappropriate." They offered no definition of "inappropriate." The statement negates a link between any environmental factors and PV cases, contrary to the data that eliminated other causes. It also stated that more analysis was needed to "understand whether there is any linkage between PV cases and where patients lived in the past." That almost suggests coincidence for the PV patients all living in the same vicinity.
The agency says it retracted the study because the authors used analysis that was determined to be inadequate. The authors of the PV study are now preparing to submit their work to scientific journals for review.
The ATSDR's handling of public health
studies of environmental situations has proven negligent in every case investigated. It would almost appear that the agency's purpose is to make sure no health problem is detected.
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