No correlation between environmental causes and has been established, but Fridley residents, past and present, have shown themselves extremely concerned about the possibility that their exposure to industrial pollutants and proximity to Superfund sites could be raising their risk for contracting cancer.
The , which , now has more than 1,100 members—more than three times as many as it had just a week ago. Many of the group’s members are actively sharing anecdotes about friends, family and neighbors who contracted cancer after living in the city and writing with conviction about their suspicions of environmental causes.
“Thanks to all of you for making the world aware of what could potentially be going on in Fridley,” McCarty wrote on the Fridley Cancer Cluster’s discussion board.
Meanwhile, more than 200 people have entered details about specific cancer cases into , plotting the diagnoses of family, friends, neighbors and themselves at corresponding addresses.
Fridley residents’ interest has gained the attention of an important activist, officials and media outlets:
- , and .
- The Minnesota Department of Health is and will release 1980s data in the coming days. State Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL-50A) has committed to looking at the data (see below).
- And regional media have launched investigations, with Fox 9 asking Fridley residents to test their homes for radon and the Star Tribune and KSTP preparing stories.
John Soler, a state epidemiologist, said that while the health department is taking the issue seriously, proving statistical correlations between environmental factors and cancer contraction rates can be very difficult, and resident relocation can significantly skew the data.
“For the vast, vast majority of cancers, where you live has nothing to do with whether you’re diagnosed or not,” Soler said.
Here is how Rep. Laine described her involvement with the issue in an email Tuesday:
I exchanged emails with Bob Bowcock from the Erin Brockovich organization asking to be kept informed about what he learns and saying I would keep him informed about anything I learn from the state departments.
I called John [Soler], a MDH epidemiologist, to ask for an appointment to discuss the information they have and the science behind these concerns. The department has scheduled an internal meeting because the subject crosses a couple different areas. Then they will meet with me.
I want to understand the considerations that go into the scientific approach to these cancer incidence problems. Correlation of circumstances do not mean cause and effect, but we need to look as closely as we can to see if a cause can actually be discerned. I have worked in the past with Rep. Karen Clark to get more information into the MN Cancer Surveillance System so we might begin to put together where people have lived and worked over time in with the information on the cancer they developed.