Another cancer cluster has been found in two predominantly African American neighborhoods, affecting young Black children at a rate several times higher than other races, a report by the State Department of Health and Human Services has revealed.
According to the study, children in Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens were diagnosed with leukemia at a rate five times greater than the state’s average.
Late last year, the city’s first-ever cancer cluster was identified in the same area with greater-than-expected incidences of adult cancers of the lung, esophagus, and throat. Both cancer clusters are near legacy creosote contamination at a facility now owned by Union Pacific.
The City of Houston is requesting that Union Pacific help to relocate affected residents and create a buffer between contaminated areas and homes in the neighborhood. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says the EPA and TCEQ must declare the area a Super Fund site, and someone needs to be held accountable for the healthcare costs of these families and specifically these children.
The mayor released a statement that read, in part:
“The finding of another cancer cluster in the Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens area highlights the significant adverse health impacts that have plagued areas of our city for decades. Even more distressing, this cluster involves children sickened with leukemia at nearly five times the expected rate.
“Without the grassroots efforts of the community and the relentless support of the Houston Health Department, this cancer analysis may have never been conducted, and the community may have continued to suffer in silence.
“It is our responsibility to protect the interests of the families and children living in the immediate area. All Houstonians have the right to a safe and healthy environment no matter where they live.
“The City of Houston will aggressively explore all possible avenues to bring meaningful relief to this suffering community.”