Morristown woman, acting as ‘cancer detective,’ discusses St. Lawrence County cancer causes in website podcast
MORRISTOWN – A Morristown woman described as a “cancer detective” is speaking out in a website podcast on what she says is a “pollution and cancer epidemic” in the St. Lawrence River Valley.
Michelle Reed is featured in an interview with Donald L. Hassig, Director of “Cancer Action NY” at http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/47317According to a prepared statement from Hassig, Reed was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and has thought a lot about the question, "What caused me to get cancer?"
She says her oncologist, Dr. Lucille Alston, at the Richard Winter Cancer Treatment Center in Ogdensburg, believes one possible cause of her cancer was asbestos exposure.
Reed was exposed to asbestos when she worked in the Newell Corporation's manufacturing facility in Ogdensburg, Hassig says. Dr. Alston also pointed to pollutant exposure that results from living in the St. Lawrence River Valley, he added.
Hassig, of Ogdensburg and Colton is a long-time activist with Cancer Action NY.
His views, outlined in a prepared statement, follow:
“The St. Lawrence River Valley is located downwind from a very large number of air pollution sources. The St. Lawrence River carries a tremendous burden of toxic substances, which have been discharged into the Great Lakes by industries, have deposited out of the polluted air into the vast water bodies and have been carried into the lakes by rainfall and snow melt runoff.
“Michelle lives in the Township of Morristown, located on the St. Lawrence River between the Village of Alexandria Bay and the City of Ogdensburg. A considerable number of Morristown residents have engaged in polluting practices that impose additional pollutant exposure on those who live in this town.
“Solid waste, including plastics is often disposed of by burning in an open fire, a wood stove located indoors, or in an outdoor wood boiler. All of these disposal practices are heavy sources of dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and soot particulates. Others dispose of solid waste by dumping or burying the waste in the ground.
“This leads to water contamination. Another polluting practice that occurs throughout the agricultural lands of the State of New York and the rest of the United States is the use of herbicides in the production of corn.
“The herbicide Atrazine has been applied to corn acreage for several decades. Atrazine breaks down in the environment into a chemical compound that is very stable in ground water. The presence of Atrazine and its breakdown product in ground water poses a risk of exposure for those who use private water wells for drinking water.
“Michelle has discovered many sources of exposure to chemicals that are know to cause or are suspected of causing cancer in her environment. She is working hard to increase public awareness of these sources of exposure so people can take action to avoid the exposure and lower the quantities of the pollutants in the environment by preventing pollution.
“Michelle works with Cancer Action NY as a cancer detective. She is learning to advocate for change. She is learning to persevere despite the unwillingness of government to take small steps toward creating a cancer free world. She is strong and she will accomplish at lot for the benefit of the public health and the protection of the Earth.”