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It's a cluster

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A report on a new study just released by the Natural Resources Defense Council identifies and seeks causes for 42 so-called "disease clusters" in 13 American states. If you guessed the name of one of the states with a cluster begins with the letter A and isn't Alaska, Arizona or Alabama, come on down and claim your prize.

The study looked at disease rates since 1976, when the Toxic Substances Control Act was passed. The TSCA regulates toxins used in products, industry and manufacturing. The Arkansas cluster mentioned is a group of testicular cancer cases that occurred in the town of Prairie Grove in Washington County from 1997 to 2001. Three of the cases were in 14-year-old boys. While the study notes that the cause of the cluster has never been officially determined, the authors point out that the town lies near the now-closed Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor (SEFOR), an experimental nuclear reactor in operation from 1969 to 1972 and now owned by the University of Arkansas. In addition, the study points out that the town is close to "a low-level radioactive landfill, a poultry plant, and a manufacturer of poultry feed containing arsenic," and that arsenic-contaminated chicken manure was often spread on fields near schools and homes there as fertilizer. Ain't it great here in the Natural State?

To read the full report, go to: www.arktimes.com/diseaseclusters.

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