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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498

Date: October 19, 2011


MILLSBORO - U.S. Representative John Carney was joined by DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf, DNREC Deputy Secretary David Small, Delaware Cancer Consortium Chair Bill Bowser, and Chair of the Delaware Cancer Consortium's Environment Committee, Meg Maley, at the Millsboro Public Library on Wednesday to announce that plans are moving forward for a pilot body burden study in the Millsboro area. The study, which will include 32 volunteer participants, will monitor the air, as well as blood, urine, and hair samples from people who live within five miles of the Indian River Power Plant. The purpose is to identify and analyze possible toxins in the air and people's bodies. It will also help health officials, environmental regulators, and residents better understand how to eliminate or reduce any potential health risks in the community.

"The members of the Millsboro community deserve to know what toxins they may be exposed to, and how to minimize any risks to their health," said Congressman Carney. "This body burden study is an important step toward answering many of the questions we all have about elevated health risks in this area, and gives us baseline information for a more comprehensive statewide analysis in the near future."

"As public servants, there is no greater responsibility we have than to the health and well-being of all Delawareans," said Rita Landgraf, secretary of the state Department of Health and Social Services. "This body burden study, financed by the Cancer Consortium and DNREC, will provide crucial information as we move forward in our continuing fight against cancer in this state and in the Millsboro area in particular. Gov. Markell, the Cancer Consortium and I all thank the people of Millsboro who will volunteer to participate in this landmark study."

"This study takes a new approach to the way we collect and analyze information about our environment and public health," said DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara. "DNREC has historically collected data on the substances that are present in our environment - the quality of our air and water resources, the health of our fish and wildlife populations, and the specific emissions or discharges from regulated facilities. By collecting and comparing data on both outdoor and indoor exposures to people on a daily basis, we will be able to better assess potential impacts to human health. We will learn from this study and the resulting science and are very pleased to support this project."

"Delaware is a national leader in reducing the burden of cancer because we have taken action," said Delaware Cancer Consortium Chair Bill Bowser. "We asked tough questions, we figured out what was driving our cancer rates, we put programs, policies and services in place, and we are beginning to see real results. This pilot is a critical next step on our journey to reduce cancer in Delaware."

"Understanding and controlling our risk of getting cancer depends on having information about ourselves and our environment," said Meg Maley, Chair of the Delaware Cancer Consortium's Environment Committee. "This pilot is an important step toward gathering data throughout Delaware that we all will ultimately use to reduce our risk."

All 32 study volunteers will be asked to participate for four consecutive days during the fall of 2011, and again during October 2012. During that time, the volunteers will be asked to wear a small device to measure air pollution levels, keep a time-activity diary, and provide blood, hair, and urine samples to a licensed DHSS nurse.

The cost of the study is approximately $360,000, which will be funded by the Delaware Cancer Consortium and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Preliminary results of the study will be available during the spring of 2012 and a final report will be available from DNREC by March 2013.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.