Saturday, March 5, 2016

Cancer Rates Worry Pompton Lakes Residents

News Report, The Record 12/11/09

By Daniel Mercurio

Residents of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey continue to worry about adverse health effects resulting from the presence of underground toxins. Such toxins can be traced to the DuPont Facility, which specialized in the creation of munitions and detonators for military and mining purposes. The plant operated for roughly a century before closing its doors in 1994.  

According to an article by Scott Gurian titled “Legacy of DuPont Plant’s Pollution Looms Large for People of Pompton Lakes,” published in NJSpotlight in December, “These industrial operations left behind a stew of toxic contaminants with multi-syllabic names like tetrachloroethylene and trichlorobenzene that seeped into the groundwater, were discharged into a nearby stream, and were buried in several on-site landfills.” Residents believe that this contamination gave rise to abnormally high cancer rates within the town. There is also consensus among residents and environmentalists that the state government is sidestepping the evidence and taking no action.  

Among those living in Pompton Lakes, there were numerous reported cases of cancer. One case involves Joseph Intintola and his fiancé, who were exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals after a gas plume migrated into an underground aquifer beneath their neighborhood. When Joseph and his fiancé went for health examinations, the tests revealed the extent of the damage done to their bodies, which they believe is from their exposure to contaminated groundwater.

“In 2008 – five years after moving into town – Intintola had a colonoscopy and was diagnosed with what his doctor told him was a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s now stage three and doesn’t think he’ll live another two years to see his 60th birthday. On top of that, his fiancé has cysts on her ovaries, breast, and a lymph node,” Gurian reported. Studies revealed that the couple was exposed to two chemical gases. These gases contained the chemical agents TCE and PCE, which are used in industrial cleaning products.  

According to residents, this case serves as evidence that the contamination from the DuPont Facility is causing the spike in cancer rates. One reason concerns the fact that 400 homes in the community where the Intintolas lived had tested positive for levels of TCE and PCE. The same study concluded that the Intintolas’ home contained the highest concentration of these contaminants both indoors and outdoors. In addition, government officials stated that these chemicals are probable carcinogens.  

A state health department study of residents of the plume area found some elevated cancers, but state officials downplayed the finding, “Higher-than-expected rates of kidney cancer among women and elevated rates of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among men residents living above the plume were found,” Gurian wrote. “Because the cancer rates weren’t elevated across the board -- for both genders – state and federal authorities concluded that the findings did not support a causal association with potential environmental exposures. Instead, they suggested other explanations such as tobacco use, occupational exposures, or pure chance.”

 When residents complained about the study’s limited scope, such as not including former residents who developed cancer but now lived elsewhere, officials stated that a more thorough investigation would require more resources.

 This has led one resident to say, “We are the victims in this, and we’re tired of it.”

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