CLYDE, Ohio – For the first time, federal health officials are in northern Ohio taking environmental samples as they investigate a possible cancer cluster.
On Monday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began collecting air, soil and water samples at the site of a former storage lot for chemical containers in Clyde.
"We're here now because residents probably still had concerns about what was here. They remember drums being here but nobody ever looked underground," said Steve Wolfe from the EPA.
According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), 35 children have been diagnosed with various types of cancer since 1996 and four kids have died in eastern Sandusky County.
A cluster is when you have an abnormally high number of cancer cases in a region without reason.
This particular cluster has been under investigation for several years and a recent report found no obvious cause or connection.
"In a two-year period, when approximately eight or nine kids are diagnosed in a very small area, something is wrong," said Wendy Brown.
Her daughter, Alexa, was diagnosed with a type of brain and spinal cord cancer when she was 8-years-old and she died three years later.
Wendy and her husband have been dedicated to finding a possible cause.
"He promised her in the weeks before she died that - maybe she knew, she knew she wasn't going to live - but he promised her that we're going to do this so that other kids don't have to go through what she went through," said Wendy.
For the next few weeks, 15 EPA investigators will use magnetic and radar technology to try to pinpoint a potential problem.
The results may not be released until this summer.
According to the EPA, the initial investigation will focus on 14 sites identified in a 2009 study prepared by Ohio state agencies. The sites include:
- Amert Lagoon Site
- Bellevue City Dump
- Clyde City Dump
- Formulated Products Site
- Golembiowski Dump Site
- Green Township Dump Site
- Leach Dump Site
- McGrath Dump
- Meggitt Landfill
- Riley Township Dump
- Townsend Township Dump
- Whirlpool Manufacturing Site
- Wickerham Drum Site
- York Township Dump
The EPA continues to operate a hotline to collect tips about other potentially contaminated sites.
Call 1-855-838-1304 if you have information to report.
All calls to the toll-free hotline are confidential.