Families of children who became mysteriously sick in the so-called “cancer cluster” of Clyde, Ohio, have hired a private environmental engineer to test for toxic residue in their homes. An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigation previously found dangerous compounds in the soil of a nearby area, but a direct link to the children’s illnesses has not been established.
Like other cancer cluster areas, Clyde has an unusually high rate of cancer diagnoses. Since 1996, at least 37 children in the area have been diagnosed — and all live within 12 miles of each other. According to local news outlet Toledo Blade, four of these children have died.
In the fall of 2012, the EPA found high levels of toxic, possibly cancer-causing chemical compounds in soil samples from Whirlpool Park, formerly a residential area owned by home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corp from the 1950s until 2008. Locals told Fox Cleveland affiliate WJW that “black sludge” had been dumped in the area during that time.
While tests of non-residential sites in the Clyde area continue, some families with sick children are ordering private tests. Joel Hebdon, a specialist in hazardous waste who previously worked under the direction of the EPA, has been hired to analyze dust particles in the attics of the families’ homes.