New cancer concerns in The Acreage - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

New cancer concerns in The Acreage

THE ACREAGE, FL (WFLX) - It has been almost a year since health officials announced they couldn't find a cause for the cancer cluster in The Acreage. But just days after FOX 29 broke news about a new lawsuit filed in the case, more people are coming forward with new concerns in the area.

"Hell, that's the only word I can think of to describe it," said Andrew Lott from his Acreage home.

Lott said he doesn't take small things for granted, like spending quiet moments with his girlfriend after the 24-year-old was diagnosed with brain cancer in June. "They removed a mass out of my brain," he said.

Lott grew up in the center of the cancer cluster study area. His family is now left with lingering questions. "I'd like them to take more initiative and put more into doing something about what's going on out here and not just forgetting about us," said his girlfriend Taryn Landau.

They're not alone. Attorneys with the law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, which represents more than 200 Acreage families, claim there's also a 4-year-old girl who was recently diagnosed with a tumor.

Plus, since FOX 29 broke news of a new lawsuit filed in the case last Friday, attorneys say, they've received calls from five additional people who were diagnosed, as well.  At least three of the individuals claim to have been diagnosed in the past few months.   

"The last thing we want to do is unnecessarily contribute to a false sense of security or false concerns about the health risks," said attorney Jack Scarola.

Health officials had discovered 1,300 people who had cancer in the area over a 12-year-period. But the number wasn't out of the ordinary. What was out of the ordinary was the number of children diagnosed.

"Between 2005 and 2007 it was three (children) when we thought we would see one case," said Tim O'Connor with the Palm Beach County Health Department.

Health officials tested the water in more than 50 wells and interviewed hundreds of people, but announced, almost a year ago, they couldn't find a cause. "We just really found nothing that was directly related to this," said O'Connor.

They're still monitoring the situation but only pediatric cases and looking for overall trends. The Health Department hasn't confirmed any new cases in children.

Meanwhile, attorneys are pressing for more long-term testing to be done. "One of our biggest concerns has always been the surface water and the lack of testing that has been done to the surface waters in the area," said attorney Mara Hatfield, who has worked on the case for close to two years.

They're concerns the Lott family are left with as Andrew continues his struggle with chemotherapy and radiation. "I want to know what caused it, that's my main thing, I want to know how I got brain cancer for being so young," said Lott.

Health officials said they didn't test the surface water in The Acreage because they already had data stating the surface water contained some chemicals from farm and business runoff over the years. But, they said, the levels were nothing out of the ordinary. They have no plans of testing any more water right now.

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