“Disturbing Trend Of Cancers”


Carlsbad residents, fearful of a cancer cluster in their community, are getting support from one local Congressman who feels the federal government should help out in the investigation.

This week, U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asking for assistance in the cancer cluster investigation in Carlsbad.

If anything, Bilbray is hoping to give members of his 50th District some "peace of mind."

"I just want to make sure that our county environmental health people have access to federal resources to supplement theirs," Bilbray told NBCSanDiego.

"Over the course of the last decade, a disturbing trend of cancers has appeared in my congressional district," the letter said.

"As the parent of five children and seven grandchildren, I write to ask you to reach out and work with both the San Diego County health authorities and the California Cancer Registry to ensure a thorough investigation of this issue," Bilbray wrote.

The letter also mentioned a need for soil testing at Kelly Elementary School where "students at the school have consumed vegetables grown on the grounds of the campus."

As NBCSanDiego has been reporting, 18 students at Kelly have been diagnosed with cancer about 20 teachers in the past ten years.

"If there are children exposed to toxins that could cause them to be sick, that needs to be stopped," said Jenifer Jaffe.

Jaffe is a teacher who is battling a rare form of cancer called leiomyosarcoma.  She taught at Kelly for 10 years, but is now transferring to another school because she is afraid the soil may be contaminated.

"We don't know where this cancer is coming from, but we need to rule out where it's not coming from,"said Pat Slattery.

Slattery also taught at Kelly and has cancer.  She believes Kelly's soil may be contaminated with arsenic, like the football field at Carlsbad High School before it was replaced in 2008.

"Those are the same grounds that you have at a lot of schools in Carlsbad, so just to err on the side of caution, check the soil at all the schools," Slattery said.

The county and state are counting the number of cancer cases to see if there is an usually high number in Carlsbad.

County officials are asking residents who have been diagnosed with cancer to go to their website and fill out a questionnaire. The information will be used in the cancer cluster study. The findings are expected to be released at the end of the month during a community forum.

Click here to donate money to test the soil.

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