Blackford County Public Health
The Hoosier Environmental Council is proud to partner with Blackford County Concerned Citizens in their quest to uncover the cause of significantly high rates of cancer in the county.
Dr. Indra Frank, Environmental Health Director, has been working closely with BCCC to research the history of the area and the likely sources of potential carcinogens and toxic chemicals.
The Hoosier Environmental Council’s talented videographer, Ryan McCracken of Boss Nacho Productions, helped BCCC tell the story of our soil testing project. It is just 3 ½ minutes. Check it out here.
Back in 2010 and 2011, BCCC obtained reports on cancer rates in Blackford County from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). This fall we worked with the state health department to get an update. This time the state assembled data from 1998 through 2012. Looking at that many years helps give a more accurate calculation of the rate since the county has a small population.
Blackford County’s age-adjusted cancer rate for that period is 514.73 cancers per 100,000 persons per year. For comparison, Indiana’s rate is 484.54 and the rate for the entire US is 460.4. The county’s rate is 6% higher than the state’s and that difference is statistically significant, which means it is a larger difference than could come from just normal variability. The county’s rate for bladder cancer, 28.1 per 100,000 per year, was also statistically higher than the state’s rate of 21.2. Colon cancer and thyroid cancer were also higher than for the state, but they did not quite reach statistical significance.
The Blackford County Health Department is aware of the new numbers and works hard to reduce cancer risk through the Blackford County Tobacco-free Taskforce. BCCC is working to reduce cancer risk through reduction in exposure to carcinogens.
Blackford County has several sites with soil that was contaminated by industrial practices in past years or by the oil and gas wells of the 1800s. Contaminants in soil can migrate into ground water. People can be exposed to the contaminants by drinking or bathing in well water.
BCCC has compiled a list of contaminants of concern and is working with the Blackford County Health Department and the state health lab to test wells near contaminated sites at no charge.
Please contact Dr. Indra Frank, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have a well near one of the old oil/gas wells or near a contaminated site and you would like to have your water tested.
The glass industry often used arsenic and lead to improve the appearance of the glass. Environmental engineering firm EnviroForensics is donating their time to help test soil at old glass factory sites to find out whether the factories left arsenic and lead behind in the soil. They have also brought in donations from their business partners Pine Environmental and Envision Laboratories. The testing is planned for the end of March.
Blackford County Concerned Citizens Mission:
“The mission of Blackford County Concerned Citizens is to improve the quality of life of Blackford County, Indiana residents by reducing the incidence of diseases, primarily through citizen action to investigate the diseases that are prevalent and by advocating to have these diseases investigated.”
If you would like to contribute to the Blackford County Concerned Citizens project, please click here.