Cancer cluster found around known creosote contamination in Fifth Ward, Kashmere Gardens
After decades of suspicion from residents who lived near a railyard where creosote had been used for more than 80 years to preserve wood ties, Texas' Department of State Health Services has confirmed a cancer cluster in 10 census tracts in the Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens.
This is the first cancer cluster in the City of Houston.
"The contaminants in the [creosote] plume are linked to those specific cancers (found),” said Loren Hopkins, the chief environmental science officer for the Houston Health Department. “It was a very severe situation before (the cluster was found), and now it’s tragic.”
Adding to the severity of the situation is the length of time it took for residents to learn about the study. It was completed in August 2019, but the city and residents were never informed. The city learned about the study only in November 2019, when it inquired with the state. “The fact that there has been shockingly little communication between the state and community is astounding,” Elena Craft, a toxicologist and senior director of climate and health at the Environmental Defense Fund, tells the Associated Press.
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