EPA finds no cause for rare cancers in Salem

EPA finds no cause for rare cancers in Salem

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by Pat Dooris, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on February 12, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 12 at 8:56 PM

SALEM -- An Environmental Protection Agency study focused on West Salem found no obvious causes for the cases of Osteosarcoma in at least five children who lived in the area.

Only 400 children get the cancer each year across the country.

Tyler Prosser is one of the teens with the cancer. He discovered it as a lacrosse player. When his leg injury did not heal, he got x-rays which led to the cancer diagnosis.

Two years later, he is in remission and has graduated from high school. His father Craig leads a group of parents pushing for answers.

“It’s just too big a coincidence to have this many cases in this small an area,” he said.

On Wednesday, the EPA officially released its findings.

“We feel good about saying that the locations we looked at don’t have environmental contaminants that would hurt kids where they're going to school or playing,” said Tony Barber, EPA Director for Oregon.

The EPA studied soil samples in five locations looking for 200 harmful chemicals. But researchers found no smoking gun.

“We may never know why the kids in those families got sick. My heart goes out to those families and if I were in their shoes I'd want answers too," said the EPA’s Barber.

KGW first learned about the strange occurrence of the rare bone cancer at west Salem High School in the fall of 2012. Tyler and Lisa Harder were named homecoming king and queen. She had the cancer too and has since died. Randy Bultena and 6-year-old Darian King lived in the same area and died from the same form of cancer.

Background: Students with cancer honored in homecoming

Craig Prosser said parents are relieved and disappointed that the EPA found nothing.

“We're happy for the community that there's nothing environmentally that we can point to be a cause of this,” he said.

You can read the EPA’s report here.

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