Last February, doctors diagnosed Chuck and Jacqueline
Roberts' young daughter, Victoria, with a rare and
life-threatening bone marrow disease, aplastic anemia.
Since then, the Robertses say, they have heard of five other
cases in Columbia County, where they live, or across the
river in Washington's Cowlitz County.
To the couple, six cases in counties with 150,000 residents
combined looks suspicious. But is it? Is it just bad luck?
Or is something, perhaps a pollutant, causing illness in the
Oregon and Washington officials are tackling those questions
as they try to figure out whether Victoria, 7, is part of a
disease cluster. So far, they have no proof of a cluster.
But workers from seven agencies in two states have spent
weeks gathering initial information, including climate data
from a Kalama, Wash., plant that legally emits tons of
benzene, a chemical that can damage the blood of people
exposed to large enough amounts. This week, investigators
will share their data and discuss whether there is enough
suspicion to push ahead.
You can read the entire article here... www.oregonlive.com
Here is a description of Aplastic Anemia from the article.
In aplastic anemia, a person's bone marrow loses the
ability to make blood cells that stop bleeding, battle
infections and move oxygen through the body. In the United
States, an estimated 200 to 1,800 new cases are found each
year. Many things can cause the disease: genetic flaws,
radiation, some drugs, chemicals such as benzene, even
pregnancy. Most commonly, something spurs the body's
immune system to attack the marrow, said Dr. Grover Bagby,
an aplastic anemia expert at Oregon Health & Science
University. But in most cases, no root cause is found.