Gillick, whose 36-year-old son Michael was diagnosed shortly after his birth with neuroblastoma, is the chairwoman of the Citizen's Action Committee on Childhood Cancer Cluster and leading the fight for answers. Would there even have been a "Toms River cancer cluster" story without Linda Gillick? In 1997, ATSDR and NJDHSS determined that an epidemiologic study was warranted, and that the study would include assessments of the potential for exposure to specific drinking-water sources. Is Microwave Popcorn Still a Health Risk? In the 1960s, the lower river was found to have been polluted for many years from the open discharge of waste from a Ciba Geigy dye manufacturing plant. © 2020 Advance Local Media LLC. Superfund Sites in Reuse in New Jersey. But some other notorious incidents, often thought to be cancer clusters, were not. m_gallery_permalink = "http://photos.nj.com/8001122/gallery/reich_farm_in_toms_river/index.html"; Unfortunately, the land lies above an aquifer which was the main source of drinking water for the entire township at that time. Mark Cukerr, an attorney who represented several of the cancer cluster families in civil lawsuits, questioned how the scientists could have easily dismissed evidence that the number of childhood leukemia cases decreased after two wells supplying drinking water were closed in the late 1990s. m_gallery_id = "16924585"; Acrylonitrile, a known carcinogen, would have dissolved more easily than SAN Trimer into the ground and the drinking water, he said. The Toms River cancer cluster has not received the national press attention of the Woburn case ("A Civil Action"). National Exposure Research Laboratory Environmental Sciences Division Superfund Technology Support Project: Technology Support Center for the Monitoring and Site Characterization FY 98 Second Quarter Report , January-March 1998. Moholt countered, saying that by the time the contamination was found and the testing started, all the acrylonitrile would have passed through the ground and the wells to an undetectable level. Several residents said that the National Toxicology Program, which conducted the study, wasted its time and money. Excerpted from the book "Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation" By the spring of 1995, when Steve Jones called to ask him to look into a possible cluster of childhood cancer in Toms River… It's not even true in all of Toms River. Joe Kotran, whose daughter had neuroblastoma, said he's frustrated with the answers he's gotten over the years from government officials. Author Dan … This book delves deeply into the history of the dye industry and the lessons it brought to Toms River--unfortunately, after the fact. The more attention the suspected cancer cluster got, the larger the stain on Toms River’s reputation grew. “The water is fine,” one anonymous note chided her. Reich Farm has been on the EPA's Superfund list for cleanup since 1983. But finding scientific proof of that has been elusive. Thank you, {{form.email}}, for signing up. Shereen Lehman, MS, is a healthcare journalist and fact checker. The finding of a statistically significant elevation in overall childhood cancer heightened community concerns about cancer in children, and its … That angered some parents, who said they couldn't see how the scientists couldn't make a connection between those abnormalities and the neuroblastoma - cancer of the sympathetic nervous system - their children had. Behl said scientists focused only on SAN Trimer because that's what then U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton had asked the NTP to study. It concluded:. m_gallery_json = "https://blog.nj.com/photogallery/8001122/16924585.json"; Parents of stricken children are convinced that that clandestine disposal, along with dumping by chemical giant Ciba-Geigy Corp., which once called Toms River its home, caused an abnormally high number of childhood cancer cases in the 1980s and 1990s. The environmental group found six contaminants in Toms River's water supply between 2012 and 2017, one of which exceeded the environmental group's recommended health guidelines. Residents in the area believe that the local water company, Toms River Water Company (now United Water Toms River), mishandled the water supply when it became evident that it was contaminated, and did not treat the water adequately to make it safe. And instead of limiting their observations to the rats' spinal columns, scientists also looked at their peripheral nerves, such as the sciatic nerve, they said. Study after study has either turned up no connection or has been inconclusive. "We are citizens who are bucking industry and government. A … Having grown up in the Toms River area, I was a child when a lot of the whisperings of "cancer cluster" were first heard. In the 1990s it seemed as if the number of children with cancer in the Toms River area was growing. When Toms River welcomed the Swiss chemical company Ciba-Geigy (now known as Novartis) in 1952, they did not know that the company had left towns in both Switzerland and Ohio due to complaints about air and water pollution. Other families declined the settlement to pursue a class-action suit. This book delves deeply into the history of the dye industry and the lessons it brought to Toms River--unfortunately, after the fact. And it's hard for us to trust this stuff.". Toms River is the second-largest all-volunteer squad in the state. It made for a diverse sample of study subjects. From 1952-1990, the Ciba-Geigy Corporation (since acquired by BASF) operated a dye manufacturing plant in Toms River. Community Rules apply to all content you upload or otherwise submit to this site. Danny DeVito Photo by Gage Skidmore. Consider the personalities involved in the Toms River cancer cluster story. The plan outlines a series of public health activities including assessments of potential environmental exposures in the community. As the chairwoman of a cancer support group called Oceans of Love for Children with Cancer, she began noticing large numbers of cases in Toms River in the mid 1990's. Was the Toms River childhood cancer cluster a mirage, an aberration, or a warning? Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (each updated 1/1/20). Coming down with rare forms of cancer the citizens of toms river started asking questions. "I do get the sense that you're making light of certain things and I don't appreciate it," Kotran told EPA and NTP officials. Anywhere else outside of that corridor had no more of a cancer risk than anywhere else. Find NJ.com on Facebook. In 1989 it ordered Ciba-Geigy to begin cleaning up the site and the groundwater., Owners of the Reich Farm had leased part of the property in 1971 to an independent waste hauler. In response to the residents' concerns, the New Jersey Department of Health in 1996 studied the problem and found that between 1979 and 1995, 90 children in the township were diagnosed with cancer. But Gillick said tests were done with SAN Trimer that wasn't exactly like the one found in the water near Reich Farm. How Can You Lower Your Risk for Leukemia? Why do you think this is? Published January 2003. National Exposure Research Laboratory Environmental Sciences Division Superfund Technology Support Project: Technology Support Center for the Monitoring and Site Characterization FY 98 Second Quarter Report , January-March 1998, Case-control Study of Childhood Cancers in Dover Township (Ocean County), New Jersey Volume I: Summary of the Final Technical Report, No single risk factor appears to be solely responsible for the rise in, An association was found between prenatal exposure to the contaminated water and leukemia in female children, An association was found between prenatal exposure to the air from the Ciba-Geigy plant and. In 1995, the NJDOH released an analysis of childhood cancer using State Cancer Registry data for the period 1979 through 1991. Toms River also has a cancer cluster however again, nothing has been proven. Your support helps us cover local news. m_gallery_title = "Reich Farm in Toms River"; Waste products from the plant were either stored in 47,000 drums or were treated and pumped through a pipeline to the Atlantic Ocean. From 1972-1974 Union Carbide removed drums, trench waste, and contaminated soil. Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission. And for that he's extremely grateful. Toms River cancer cluster still a mystery despite 20 years of studies. From 1952-1990, the Ciba-Geigy Corporation (since acquired by BASF) operated a dye manufacturing plant in Toms River. New Brunswick, NJ: Rivergate Books; 2011. As for the water being monitored closely, well lets just say you can't trust anyone. Was it a consequence of nothing but a stunningly bad run of luck, like rolling snake eyes six times in a row? "We are not backing down.". New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Division of Epidemiology, Environmental and Occupational Health Consumer and Environmental Health Services. Toms River in New Jersey experienced a much-publicized cluster of childhood cancer cases. Waste products from the plant were either stored in some 69,000 drums or were treated and pumped through a pipeline to the Atlantic Ocean. Jon Gorin, a project manager for the EPA, agreed acrylonitrile is a known carcinogen but said it was never found in the more than 1,000 samples of groundwater collected from the farm. She has co-authored two books for the popular Dummies Series (as Shereen Jegtvig). Belton TJ. m_gallery_creation_date = "Tuesday, February 03, 2015, 2:51 PM"; The two-year study, released to the public this week, concluded SAN Trimer did not cause cancer in rats. Follow her on Twitter @MaryAnnSpoto. MaryAnn Spoto may be reached at mspoto@njadvancemedia.com. Toms River, New Jersey is another recognized case. m_gallery_blog_id = "8001122"; Link sought to cancer cluster in Toms River : Published in the Ocean County Observer By MARGARET F. BONAFIDE Staff Writer TOMS RIVER -- John Cardini's daughter, Jessica, 12, a leukemia victim, has been in remission for 3-1/2 years. The occurrence of childhood cancer has been a concern in the Dover Township/Toms River area of Ocean County for many years. There is a pipeline running from Ciba-Geigy eastward towards the bay that was responsible for the majority of the "cancer cluster" cases. " The money is surely no consolation to the 15 families whose children have died, and to the new cases of childhood cancer being diagnosed each year. The toms river was known as goose creek until it was renamed in the early 18th century either for english captain william toms farmer and ferryman thomas luker or a native american named tom. Gillick said. 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