Cancer Clusters in Florida: the Silence of the State

June 8, 2015

A CounterPunch Special Investigation

This is a story about pediatric cancer clusters in Florida. It begins in Durham, North Carolina at Duke University where Dr. David Banks is a professor in the Department of Statistical Science.

In 2013 Dr. Banks was the new editor of Statistics and Public Policy, a journal of the American Statistical Association. In early February, Banks gave a speech to the Florida Chapter of the ASA at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. There, he met with Dr. Raid Amin, a distinguished statistics professor at the university.

Three years earlier, a team led by Dr. Amin had published a paper, “Epidemiological Mapping of Florida Childhood Cancer Clusters.”

Dr. Amin’s statistical analysis of pediatric cancers in Florida – from the years 2000 to 2007 – concluded that there are significant cancer clusters in two large areas of Florida: the southern region of Florida and in northeast Florida. That struck one of the most sensitive nerves in state government.

Its publication was lightly reported in the press, but to state officials charged with monitoring public health, it followed in the highly publicized wake of two claims of pediatric cancer clusters, one in Port St. Lucie in the 1990’s and another in an unincorporated area of West Palm Beach called the Acreage in 2009. Even today, reading the plaintive cries for help from aggrieved parents is heart wrenching. Read the rest of this entry »

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