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Laine's Aim: Add Residential Data to Cancer Surveillance System

State rep reviewing Fridley cancer rates; Brockovich visit won't be in May.

Concerns about Fridley's elevated cancer rates has one state representative seeking data, while a visit from environmental activist Erin Brockovich is delayed.

Over the last several weeks, state Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL-50A) has been looking into the possibility that environmental causes are partially to blame for , and now she is hoping to input residential and occupational data into the Minnesota Cancer Surveillance System.

“I do not see this as a blame-for-the-past issue but as wake-up for today and the future: We need to be sure we are doing all we can/should be doing now,” Laine wrote in an email to Patch late last week.

In a letter to the editor published in the Sun Focus (see PDF), Laine wrote that she is “uncomfortable with the suggestion that smoking is the only culprit in Fridley’s unusually high lung cancer rate” and that “there may be legislation that can help gather important data.”

Laine’s approach of gathering additional citizen data is in line with the aims of the 2,700 member-strong , which has encouraged current and former Fridley residents to input more than 570 data points into . (The markers on the map have been clicked more than 23,000 times.)

Laine said she has spoken on the phone with the Facebook group’s founder, Jason McCarty, and has corresponded with Bob Bowcock, ’s environmental investigator.

Bowcock has been collecting anecdotal cancer data from Fridley citizens in order to fill a “data gap” and determine whether there is a link between cancer cases and contamination plumes.

“I have scores of reported cancers from people who lived in Fridley for forty years or more [who] died in the statistical time period, yet moved away before they could be counted,” Bowcock has written on the Facebook group’s discussion board.

Bowcock was initially planning on visiting Minnesota with Brockovich in the middle of May, but McCarty wrote Thursday that Brockovich’s crowded May schedule means that either Bowcock will visit Fridley alone in two weeks or will visit with Brockovich a little later.

Bowcock has not yet returned messages sent Thursday or Friday; look for updates here with more information.

Mary Jo Theis May 14, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Hurray for someone stepping up to the plate. I tire of excuses and denial from people who read a lot of articles, understand only half and don't question the other half. People who aren't personally affected and are afraid they might be next. As one person wrote she played" smack dab in the middle of the playground near the old Parkview school and obviously is not affected. I played there too with my family and all died of full body cancer except me. Am I concerned? Of course.
Lisa Landen June 21, 2012 at 03:17 AM
One person not being affected does not have significance when the data show that the majority is affected. That would be considered anecdotal evidence and does not hold water in science.
Lisa Landen June 21, 2012 at 03:18 AM
It is wonderful to see the city taking charge and showing concern for this situation. Hopefully we will find the cause and begin working toward the solution now.

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