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Contaminated Johnson County Homes Causing High Rates of Cancer in Children

Jason Reese

Synopsis

  • According to National Cancer Institute statistics, rates of blood and brain cancer for Indiana children living in Johnson County continue to rise.
  • Indiana Health Department records show the county that sits south of Indianapolis had 111 cases of cancer in people younger than 20 between 1999 and 2013 and in the last decade, at minimum, 50 children have been diagnosed.
  • Local news outlets are reporting on the issue and say parents have been working with a nonprofit group and an Indianapolis environmental engineering firm to conclude that environmental issues related to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals such as radon, tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene have been found in the air of several Johnson County homes.
  • Environmental experts say the issue might not only impact individuals and children in Johnson County, but likely communities struggling with contamination throughout the whole state of Indiana.

Johnson County Homes Found to Be Contaminated with Harmful Cancer-Causing Toxins

Dozens of children in Johnson County, almost half in the Town of Franklin, have been diagnosed with rare forms of blood and brain cancer over the last 10 years. Sadly, some have even died from their illnesses. The increase of cancer cases mimics National Cancer Institute and Indiana Health Department data that shows the county had 111 cases of cancer in people younger than 20 between 1999 and 2013. Since, numbers have and are expected to continue in a rising trend.

On Monday, July 16, two independent groups who have been working with Johnson County families since 2014 to identify the potential environmental links behind the possible cancer clusters, released alarming investigative findings from a June 20 sampling of living rooms, kitchens, basement or crawl spaces of more than a dozen homes identified for and open to the testing. New Jersey-based nonprofit Edison Wetlands Association and Mundell & Associates, an environmental engineering firm located in Indianapolis, tested the air of 14 homes in about a 5-mile radius of the former Amphenol Corporation and Franklin Power Products polluter sites. Here are some of the findings released and recently reported by local news outlets:

  • Many families are being exposed to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals in the air of their homes.
  • Several of the homes tested more than 10 times the state’s recommended contamination levels for toxic materials.
  • Outdoor levels and high toxin concentrations were found in the kitchens and living rooms of other homes and indicate continued serious problems for residents.
  • Six homes had radon levels that exceeded the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM) Residential Indoor Air Screening Level.
  • Three homes exceeded the levels for volatile organic compounds such as tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene, known as PCEs and TCEs.
  • Samples collected from the kitchen in one home showed levels of TCE 18 times the residential level and nearly five times the commercial level.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have listed these substances as cancer-causing compounds to humans and potentially deadly to populations highly exposed to them. The toxic substances can cause an individual lethal harm if it enters the body quickly through inhalation, the most common route of exposure.

More Support Needed for Continued Testing and Research

Three years ago, Johnson County community families requested for several Indiana state agencies to investigate the cause for the illnesses and for a possible “cancer cluster”, or a greater-than-expected incidence of a particular cancer within a population group and demographic area. While some areas were investigated, most outside environmentalists agree not enough has been done to make conclusive judgments on the safety of the community’s exposure to the contamination. The groups say a larger sampling of homes would provide a better picture as to the scope of the issue, but the most recent results should maximize awareness and concerns within the community and prompt swift action by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and regulators at the Indiana State Department of Health. The consulting groups say they fear the issue might not only impact families in Johnson County, but likely communities struggling with contamination throughout the whole state of Indiana where similar systems are operating.

Identifying Cancer in Children Through Symptoms and Screenings

American Cancer Society (ACS) reports say although the rate of childhood cancers has increased over the decade due to environmental factors, they are still rare. And without a preferred recommended screening test to find cancer in children who don’t carry an increased known risk, many early cancer symptoms can go unnoticed or remain difficult to recognize as they mimic many less serious childhood illnesses, infections or injuries. It’s important for a child’s doctors, parents, friends or relatives of children with heightened exposure to areas known to be hazardous to seek out any unusual signs of illness or symptoms that do not go away, such as:

  • An unusual lump or swelling
  • Unexplained paleness and loss of energy
  • Easy bruising
  • An ongoing pain in one area of the body
  • Limping
  • Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away
  • Frequent headaches, often with vomiting
  • Sudden eye or vision changes
  • Sudden unexplained weight loss

ACS suggests if your child has any of these symptoms, you have them be seen by a doctor immediately so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed. Toxic exposures, including the alleged findings in Johnson County, could also cause a person or child to develop:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma and respiratory tract damage
  • Blindness
  • Damage to the organs
  • Death
  • Neurological damage, memory and concentration problems
  • Reproductive system injuries
  • Skin damage, rashes and scarring

In addition to cancer, illnesses related to hazardous toxin exposure can lead to:

  • Aplastic anemia
  • Asbestosis
  • Chemically induced asthma
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Liver failure
  • Lung disease
  • Mesothelioma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • RADS (Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome)
  • Silicosis

Families, especially those with young children, should not have to live with the consequences of a life exposed to toxic and hazardous chemicals.

Call Wagner Reese For a Free Consultation

If you fear your family has been exposed to the hazardous pollutants in Johnson County, or any other area of the state, and sustained an injury or illness we can ensure the responsible parties are held accountable for any related physical injuries and loss of life, lost wages and income, medical expenses, rehabilitation or physical therapy costs, and pain and suffering. Most often these damages are caused by the negligent toxic exposure or reckless conduct of an individual or company.

Contact an attorney at Wagner Reese at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation. You can also connect with us by submitting our online form and our attorneys will promptly review your information.

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