WHITING, IN: Residents 17 times more likely to develop disease as national average
June 24th, 2009
Lake Co., Ind. Pollution Means Higher Cancer Risk
Residents 17 Times More Likely To Develop Disease As National Average
WHITING, Ind. (CBS) ―
What if you found out that your neighborhood had one of the highest cancer rates in the country?
There are only six places in the U.S. where you have a higher risk for developing cancer in Lake County, Ind.
CBS 2's Jim Williams reports people who live there are 17 times more likely to develop cancer than the national average.
Ron Hric lives in Whiting, Ind., where the view from his front porch is of the BP refinery.
"I know they put out a lot of stuff over there," Hric said.
Just a few weeks ago, according to the Respiratory Health Association,
the BP refinery was putting out 16 times the amount of benzene it was
allowed to emit under Environmental Protection Agency rules.
"Benzene is one of the most toxic chemicals out there. It's an
especially strong carcinogen," said Brian Urbaszewski of the Respirator
This, in Lake County, Indiana, home to heavy industry and car and truck
traffic ... That has the 8th highest cancer risk in the nation because
of high levels of toxic air pollution.
Joaquin Lopez is not surprised. His father, who worked in the steel mills here, died of thyroid cancer.
And he wasn't alone.
"Most of his friends have all been diagnosed with cancer, have all
passed from cancer," Lopez said. "My father-in-law had cancer in the
brain. He also worked in the mill, retired."
According to the EPA, 609 in 1 million people in Lake County are likely to get cancer.
Hric says he is relieved his grandchildren no longer live nearby.
"My grandkids are moving to Mississippi to get away from here," Hric said.
The Respiratory Health Association urges residents in places like Lake
County to consult the EPA's Web site. Information is power.
"It allows the public to get active and ask their elected officials and
the companies putting out these chemicals to stop doing that, to find
alternatives to emissions going out into their environment,"
That's about all Hric feels he can do that this point. He can't move.
"I know it's bad in this area, but what are you going to do. You got a
house, you gotta stay. You can't sell them now," Hric said.
The good news in all of this is that the cancer risk across the nation
has actually gone down since the EPA did its last survey. Experts say
that's because average citizens are demanding businesses reduce
Areas that rank higher for pollution and cancer risk are:
- Los Angeles County, Calif.
- Madison County, Ill.
- Alleghany County, Penn.
- Tuscaloosa County, Ala.
- Orange County, Calif.
- Scioto County, Ohio