A special investigation featured in The Nation has revealed that brain cancer rates among young girls in The Acreage, a south Florida town, have shot up in recent years, and radioactive waste may be responsible. The Acreage is less than twenty miles inland of West Palm Beach and it’s typical for about one in 30,000 to 40,000 children in the United States to develop a brain tumor annually, but The Acreage, with a population of just 39,000, saw four pediatric brain-tumor cases between 2005 and 2007. The Nation reports that a young girl’s “chance of getting a brain tumor in The Acreage was five and a half times what it was in the rest of Florida,” not even accounting for the four children diagnosed with brain tumors in 2008. A parent-led investigation into the rise in cancer cases caught the eye of a local reporter in 2009, who wrote a story about it — and soon after the state announced an official cancer-cluster investigation. As The Nation points out, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a cancer cluster as a “greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area over a period of time.” Most other suspected cluster investigations fail to turn up significant results proving a link between cancer cases, but in the case of The Acreage, health officials informed the community that their town was indeed experiencing a cluster of pediatric brain tumors, not to mention elevated rates of all cancers at all ages. However, no clear culprit for the rise in cancer cases was found. Families may have been left without answers, except that attorneys decided to take up where public-health officials left off. Erin Brockovich and a local firm began to represent several families in the community which resulted in unearthing some possible causes including rumors of pollution and pesticides in The Acreage — and throughout South Florida. To learn more about the pollution and radioactive waste thought to cause the brain cancer spike in The Acreage, read the whole investigative report, The Brain Cancer Rate for Girls in This Town Shot Up 550%—Is a Defense Contractor to Blame?

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+ Read the entire report: The Brain Cancer Rate for Girls in This Town Shot Up 550%—Is a Defense Contractor to Blame?

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