Acreage Investigation - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Air Monitoring and Canal Testing
September 20, 2010
Has any air sampling been done in The Acreage?
Palm Beach County Health Department (PBCHD) Division of Environmental Public
Health conducts ambient air monitoring as an approved local air program. In
the past, PBCHD has conducted special studies to assess the air quality
impacts from sugarcane burning as it relates to particulate matter (PM). PM
is small particles formed from the smoke of open burning. PBCHD continues PM
monitoring in Belle Glade and Royal Palm Beach. While elevated PM
concentrations are evident during the sugarcane burning season, the
sugarcane burning does not cause or contribute to a violation of the
National Ambient Air Quality Standards established to protect public health.
The PBCHD has also conducted several air toxics monitoring studies including
a project with Dade and Broward Counties. The results of these studies did
not indicate levels above what is present in typical urban areas. Based on
the known emissions from sources in Palm Beach County, there is no basis
that air toxics monitoring in The Acreage would produce results greater than
the levels from the previous studies. For more information contact the Air &
Waste Program, Division of Environmental Public Health, Palm Beach County
Health Department, (561)837-5975.
The Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) air toxics staff also
looked at this issue. Based on experience with monitoring results from
around the state, emission data for sources near Palm Beach County and risk
information from EPA, the air quality in The Acreage is comparable to other
areas in the
I have seen smoke rising from the west of our community, what is this
and how does this affect our air quality?
The large smoke columns seen in the west (of The Acreage) are most likely
from sugarcane burning in the Everglades Agriculture Area (EAA). The
material being burned is vegetative in nature, mostly the dead leafy portion
of the sugarcane. The burning season runs from October through March. This
open burning is regulated by the Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services,
Division of Forestry (DOF) which has established burning practices to
minimize impacts to urban areas. However, there have been instances when the
ash and smoke from sugarcane burning has impacted the urban areas east of
the EAA, usually as a result of unexpected or rapid changes in weather
conditions (e.g., cold front moves through the area).
In the past there has also been prescribed burning conducted at the Dubouis
Preserve (500 acres) located northwest of The Acreage. This burning is
conducted to maintain the preserve and minimize the potential for future
wildfires, and is also controlled by the DOF.
PBCHD documents complaints on sugarcane burning and other agriculture
burning, and will attempt to validate them. In this effort, samples are
sometimes collected at the site of the complaint for microscopic analysis.
While soot or ash from nearby agricultural/silvicultural burns may deposit
on exposed surfaces, some of the residue sampled by PBCHD has also been
attributed to agricultural soils from harvested fields exposed to wind
erosion. These soil residues include organic particles (cellulose dust and
fibers), mineral dusts, and mold spores consistent with the humic, "peaty"
soils in the agricultural areas of western Palm Beach County. Complaints
received about sugarcane burning are also referred to DOF in Fort Lauderdale
(954)475-4120, for further investigation.
How could my and my family’s health be impacted by low air quality
caused by controlled agricultural burning?
Smoke in general can irritate the mucous membranes and may exacerbate asthma
conditions in a person with a history of asthma. Your physician should be
able to determine the best course of treatment to calm those symptoms.
Exposure to particle pollution is not known to cause brain cancers in
children, but may be associated with other health risks relating to lung
development in adults and children.
Are there emissions data or emissions estimates regarding testing jet
and rocket engines on ground-level test stands at the Pratt & Whitney
DEP’s air toxics staff considers emissions from Pratt & Whitney (United
Technologies) facility that are included in EPA’s air toxics assessment
information. DEP also collects emissions information that is reported to
DEP’s Division of Air by Pratt & Whitney. John Glunn is the contact for the
data in EPA’s air toxics assessment. He can be reached at John.Glunn@dep.state.fl.us
and (850)488-0114. Note that EPA’s air toxics assessment includes
information from a variety of data sources, which in some cases includes
estimates made by EPA. Tom Rogers is the contact for the reported emissions
data included in DEP’s data system. He can be reached at Tom.Rogers@dep.state.fl.us
and (850)488-0114. This emissions information is reported by the facilities
that are regulated by DEP and required by rule to report. Such facilities
are required to report accurate information that DEP reviews.
Additionally, PBCHD is responsible for issuing the air permits to the Pratt
& Whitney facility. The permit will specify the facility’s emission limits,
and annual emissions are reported to the PBCHD. Also, the PBCHD conducts
periodic inspections of the facility to verify compliance with all permit
conditions. Although the facility is classified a major source, annual
emissions are relatively small compared to the FPL power plant. The major
pollutants are produced from fuel combustion.
Were canals sampled?
In August 2009, DEP collected surface water samples from the L-8 tieback
canal, M-canal and an outfall canal that drains the property occupied by the
Seminole Improvement District (SID) water plant. These samples were analyzed
for the radionuclides gross alpha and radium 226/228 because DEP was
evaluating elevated levels of these analytes in untreated water samples from
the SID well field. These samples were taken to determine the source of
elevated gross alpha and radium 226/228 in the SID well field. Because
analytical results indicated that the surface waters were not the source of
elevated radionuclides in the well field, no further canal sampling was
In planning for the spring 2010 case and control home sampling, DEP and the
Florida Department of Health (DOH) determined that the primary exposure
pathways to potential contaminants were through consumption of drinking
water and exposure to soils. Therefore, DEP focused on the collection and
analysis of soil and drinking water samples.
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Q & A for Acreage Community Focus Group June 29, 2010
This document addresses questions raised during a recent
meeting of the Acreage Community Focus Group.
Is there a Web site link for the public to get
information related to DEP’s sampling and testing in The Acreage Community?
What has been the extent of the testing?
August/September 2009 (groundwater and surface water only)
50 locations (49 residences, 1 day care), 63 samples
Seminole Improvement District (SID) 5 wells for a total
of 7 samples, and one sample each collected from the Point of Entry
(treated), repump (treated) and reject water (untreated) areas
5 surface water samples collected from 5 different
February 2010 (groundwater only)
27 residences (23 new homes, 4 revisits for additional
samples), 54 samples collected
1 from SID Point of Entry
March 2010 (groundwater and soil)
2 residences, 5 water samples
25 residences, 110 soil samples
April 2010 (groundwater and soil)
9 residences (1 new home, 8 revisits for additional
samples), 13 groundwater samples collected
10 residences, 30 soil samples
Were zinc, nickel, chromium or methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)
tested for in the Acreage samples?
August/September 2009 (water only)
The water samples were not analyzed for zinc and nickel,
but they were for total chromium and MEK. MEK is also known as
2-butanone and that is the name it is listed under in EPA method 8260.
While the samples were not specifically tested for hexavalent chromium,
the results of tests for total chromium include hexavalent chromium. No
speciation work (to determine the amount of hexavalent chromium) was
required since none of the samples exceeded the criteria for chromium.
February 2010 (water only)
March 2010 (water and soils)
April 2010 (water and soils)
Summary: As noted, DEP has tested for the four (4) contaminants listed in
Attorney Srolovic’s June 16, 2010 e-mail, and based on the analytical results,
none of the samples exceeded the criteria for such contaminants. The results of
the soil samples will be released in approximately mid-July 2010.
Has DEP reviewed the Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)
reports for the utilities parcel at the Pratt & Whitney facility?
Yes. DEP’s comments are provided below:
Phase I Final ESA Report by CDM (December 2001). This
review by CDM is an environmental assessment of the parcel to be acquired by
the county. The assessment finds 7 Recognized Environmental Conditions (REC’s)
where the presence or likely presence of hazardous substances needs to be
addressed. These REC’s are the solid waste management units (SWMU) 9, 12,
14, 42, 49, 59, and 75 that are being addressed under the DEP HSWA permit.
The assessment concludes that remediation is not complete and there is the
likelihood of discovering additional environmental contamination.
DRAFT Phase II Environmental Assessment by Nodarse and
Associates (no date). Comments on the document dated August 30, 2001 by
Larry. This report is the result of investigation of the 22 REC’s identified in
Phase I (Nodarse expanded the 7 REC’s from Phase I into 22). The report found 10
REC’s with contamination greater than the Cleanup Target Levels (CTL’s) for
various contaminants. There is a table that lists the 22 sites, but the table
only has 21 (# 20 is missing). In the report there is a statement that a
description of the sites, together with the analytical results as presented in
the Environmental Solutions (actually Environmental Standards) January 12, 2001
report may be found in Appendix A. Unfortunately, Appendix A is not complete and
what was sent does not describe the sites.
Section 3 of the report: Groundwater and Soil Sampling.
All samples tested for metals (As, Ba, Cd, Cr, Pb, Hg, Se, Ag, but not nickel or
zinc), volatiles, semivolatiles, and PCB. Figures showing where samples were
taken are not in the documents received by the Department. In the following
comments, reported detections for BEHP (bis ethyl hexyl phthalate) are artifacts
of contamination added by the people conducting the sampling or the analysis.
Lime Drying Beds. Soil sample 1-CS-2 had PCB at 340
µg/kg, but nothing was found in the groundwater samples.
Waste Pile No. 2. Soil sample 2-CS-1 and 2-CS-2 had PCB
at 2,110 and 865 µg/kg, respectively. Well 2-TW-1 had benzo(a)anthracene,
benzo(a)pyrene, 4-chlorophenylphenylether, fluoranthene, fluorine,
indeno(123-cd)pyrene, and pyrene at 8, 5, 9, 8, 8, 5, and 8 µg/L, respectively.
Incinerator. Nothing found in the soil or groundwater.
Water Plant Container Storage Area. Report states nothing
in soil but lab data shows 4-CS-1 and 4-CS-2 with PCB of 365 and 100 µg/kg,
respectively. BEHP reported in the groundwater.
Incinerator Container Storage Area. Nothing found in the
soil or groundwater.
Returnable Drum Storage Area. Nothing found in the soil
Deep Injection Well. Nothing found in the soil. BEHP
reported in the groundwater.
Acid/Alkali Rinse System. Soil sample 8-CS-1 had PCB of
34, 320 µg/kg, lead of 220 mg/kg, and silver of 2.8 mg/kg. Nothing found in the
Hazardous Waste Storage Area. Nothing found in the soil.
BEHP reported in the groundwater.
Concentrated Waste Treatment Facility. PCB in soil
samples 10-CS-1 and 10-CS-4 of 2,030 and 1,720 µg/kg. Groundwater well 10-TW-1
had tetrachloroethene of 3.4 µg/L.
Oil/Water Evaporator. PCB in soil samples 11-CS-1,
11-CS-2, and 11-CS-3 at 1,630, 705, and 7,100 µg/kg. Nothing found in the
Gas/Acid Storage Building. PCB in soil samples 12-CS-1
and 12-CS-6 of 99, and 865 µg/kg. Nothing found in the groundwater.
Firing Range. Nothing found in the soil. No groundwater
Explosives Storage Area. Nothing found in the soil. BEHP
reported in the groundwater.
Storm Water Management Collection System. Nothing found
in the sediment. No water samples were taken.
North Pond. Nothing found in the sediment or water
Water Quality Sampling on Canal Boundary. Five temporary
wells 50 ft north of the southern property boundary show nothing except BEHP. No
soil samples taken.
Existing Potable Well Fields. Well PW-1 had lead at 16
µg/L. However, the well was not being used.
Southern Canal Sediment Sampling. Six evenly spaced
samples from the canal show nothing above residential SCTLs. Data shows nothing
above detection limits of lab except for barium which was above the Threshold
Effect Concentration (TEC) for some samples, but below the Probable Effect
Environmental Laboratory. Nothing detected in the soil or
Entrance Road. Report states nothing detected from nine
samples. Lab data for 22-CS-6 shows Cr and Pb at 415 and 145 mg/kg,
Environmental Standards report of January 2001 in Appendix A.
It is not complete (what was sent starts at Section 6.9 and does not include any
figures, tables, or analytical data). South canal environmental sampling results
and discussion appears to be contradicted by the later study conducted by
Nodarse (see results above). Not much discussion in the Nodarse report on the
Appendix A: Environmental Standards report on the Surface
Water Canal System, Section 6.15 of report. Studied a 5,500 feet length of
the southern canal system. The initial investigation consisted of 10 paired
sediment and surface water samples at 500 feet increments from the center of the
canal looking for TCL VOCs, SVOCs, PPL Metals, PCBs, and pesticides (TCL could
refer to Target Compound List and PPL could refer to Priority Pollutant List [Sb,
As, Be, Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, Hg, Ni, Se, Ag, Tl, Zn], but the acronyms are not
defined). The follow up with samples every 100 feet that consisted of sediment
samples at 1/3 and 2/3 transect distances and one surface water sample from
center of canal. These second sets of samples looked only at PCB’s, cadmium,
chromium, copper, and nickel.
The initial 10 samples found no VOCs or SVOCs. One surface water sample had PCBs
at 0.18 µg/L (criteria in 2001 was < 0.000044 annual avg.; 0.014 max, all units
µg/L). Detection limit for PCBs was not given and does not mention if the sample
was filtered. The metals Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni and Zn were detected in the surface
water. No SVOCs were detected in the sediments. The VOCs chlorobenzene and MEK
were detected at 5.8 and 16.3 µg/kg, respectively (not mg/kg).
Then the report jumps to a discussion of all the sediment samples (118 total).
PCBs were detected in 27 of the 118 samples in concentrations from 17 to 75
µg/kg. Metals were found in 112 of the 118 samples. The highest measured were:
As 1.7 mg/kg, Cd 0.79 mg/kg, Cr 50 mg/kg, Cu 9.7 mg/kg, Ni 21 mg/kg, Tl 1.8
mg/kg, Zn 39.4 mg/kg. The report does not mention if these are dry weight
results. Compared to the TEC [As 9.8 mg/kg, Cd 1.0 mg/kg, Cr 43 mg/kg, Cu 32
mg/kg, Ni 23 mg/kg, Zn 120 mg/kg (nothing for Tl), and PCB 60 µg/kg] there were
exceedances for the following compounds: Chromium and PCB are just barely over
the TEC for freshwater sediments, but below the PEC.
The Environmental Standards report used 1994 guidance for marine sediments and
found exceedances for 24 samples for PCB (TEL is 22 µg/kg), Cd for three samples
(TEL is 0.68 mg/kg) and seven samples for Ni (TEL is 16 mg/kg). The TEL for
marine sediments is lower than the freshwater TEC criteria for sediments.
Groundwater samples along southern property line, Section
6.17. Sampled existing monitoring wells WEMA-23B, WEMA-24A, WEMA-24B,
WEPP-6A, WEPP-6B, WEPP-6D, WEPP-5B, and WEPP-5C. No VOC’s were found, and the
only SVOC detected was BEHP from lab/sampling contamination. Metals were
detected in 4 wells (not listed); chromium in two wells at 63.4 and 129 µg/l;
copper in two wells at 45.8 and 47.0 µg/L; and nickel in two wells at 68.2 and
325 µg/L. The groundwater CTLs were exceeded for Cr and Ni, however we do not
know if samples were filtered.
Appendix B: MEMO from David B. Twedell – Nodarse &
Associates, Inc. to Larry A. Johnson – Palm Beach County Utilities dated May 10,
2001. Excerpt from that letter: “Surface water contamination with organics,
heavy metals (including mercury) and PCBs were encountered in the canal located
on the southern boundary of the utility parcel. In addition, high levels of
PCBs, organics and heavy metals, including mercury were detected in sediment
samples taken from this same canal.”
The Environmental Standards report does mention the presence of PCBs and metals
in the canal on the southern boundary. It does not report any organics other
than chlorobenzene and MEK (2-butanone) in the sediments at low concentrations.
There was one surface water detection of PCB and 27 detections in the sediment.
The heavy metals reported were cadmium, chromium, copper, nickel, and zinc. No
mention is made of mercury. The maximum concentrations reported in the sediments
were slightly above the TEC and well below the PEC.
The results of the study by Nodarse & Associates indicate no contamination in
the sediments of the canal. Unfortunately, the report does not explain why
Nodarse did not take any surface water samples as part of its confirmatory
sampling program after making special note of surface water contamination in the
May 10, 2001 MEMO.
What actions have been taken by Pratt & Whitney since these
reports were issued?
In December 2002 and January 2003, 169 tons of soil with PCB
concentrations greater than 2.1 mg/kg was removed from the area near the
Acid and Alkali Rinse system Structure (SWMU 49).
In June 2003 the Utility Parcel was transferred to the Beeline
Community Development District. A deed restriction to maintain industrial use of
the property was recorded with Palm Beach County.
From October 2003 through April 2004, soil was excavated from
SWMU 58 (Hazardous Waste Storage Building), Fitness Trail, Test Explosives
Storage Area, Gas/Acid Storage Building/Environmental Laboratory, SWMU 49 (Acid
and Alkali Rinse Tanks), and SWMU 37 (Water Treatment Plant Container Storage
SWMU 58: Excavated 136 tons of soil.
Fitness Trail: Excavated 701 tons of soil.
Testing Explosives Storage Area: Excavated 491 tons of soil.
Gas/Acid Storage Building and Environmental Laboratory: Excavated 20 tons
SWMU 49: Excavated 169 tons of soil.
SWMU 37: Excavated 3,423 tons of soil.
Approximately 5,000 tons of soil were removed during these
• This year Pratt & Whitney is demolishing buildings in the utility parcel and
removing any contaminated soil encountered during the process.
Has contamination been transported via surface water (canal)
to areas south of the facility?
Summary: Based upon DEP’s analysis, it has not found any information
indicating that contaminants identified in the ESA are present at The Acreage in
excess of the applicable criteria.
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
The Acreage Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs IV --- TESTING
(June 14, 2010)
Is the blood of children who have cancer being tested for
elevated toxins that could be cancer causing? Or is the blood being tested
for elevated levels of heavy metals or other chemical compounds?
No. The CDC has advised the Department of Health (DOH) that there are no
tests in blood or urine for environmental contaminants that would provide
results that could be linked to increased risk of pediatric brain cancers.
Although it is possible to test blood and urine for hundreds of chemicals,
CDC did not feel that this course of action would provide meaningful results
given that the risk factors for pediatric brain cancers are not clear.
What is the most likely pathway into the body for a contaminant that
could cause cancer?
Drinking water is one of the most common ways a contaminant could
theoretically enter the body. Drinking water can provide one of the
strongest and most direct biological pathways. Given that the quality of
drinking water is a common concern when an area is assessed for
contamination, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has tested
over 50 samples from wells in the Acreage community. Conclusions from the
testing showed no indication of agricultural or industrial contamination in
the water and water quality is considered to be good. Results may be found
Acreage Water Results Final
Additional downloadable booklets and documents regarding drinking water,
well filtration, maintenance and other pertinent information from the EPA,
DEP and PBCHD can be found on the Palm Beach County Health Department
downloadable booklets and documents
Do telecommunications towers cause brain cancer?
Radio, television, and cell phone transmitters are all regulated by the
Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is required by the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 to evaluate the effects of radiofrequency
and other electromagnetic emissions (usually referred to as "RF" for short)
from these transmitters on the quality of the human environment. The FCC's
rules protect public health by limiting the maximum amount of RF to which a
licensee's transmitters, in combination with other sources of RF, may expose
communications workers and the public. These rules were coordinated with,
and are supported by, federal agencies with health and safety
responsibilities, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the
Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The FCC emission limits are based on safety standards recommended by the
National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP, Report 86),
and by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc. (IEEE,
C95.1 standard). To develop these safety standards, these organizations of
scientists and engineers first examined hundreds of studies published over
several decades in the peer-reviewed scientific literature to determine
which adverse health effects are possible from RF exposure, and at what
specific levels the effects occur. After deriving these levels, the
organizations set the maximum permissible exposure limit for occupational
workers at a level 10 times below the level where the health effects begin
to occur. As an extra margin of safety, the limits for the public were set
at a level 5 times below the occupational limit (and thus, 50 times below
the effects level). Measurements conducted by the FCC, EPA and others have
shown that normal emissions levels in inhabited areas near transmitters are
often far below the levels allowed by the FCC limits.
The overall weight of the scientific evidence shows that cancer, including
brain cancer, is not caused by exposure to the levels of RF emitted by the
towers. To learn more about a particular licensee or about RF safety in
general, please visit this FCC web site:
The following beta particles/emitters were not analyzed in the first
sampling event. Why were they added in the next sampling event?
Beta -- Manmade Beta Emitter
• Iodine-129 and -131
DEP did not test for the above listed manmade beta emitters during its first
round of sampling because there are no community water systems within Palm
Beach County that are categorized as vulnerable to contamination from these
manmade beta emitters. Community water systems are only required to sample
for listed manmade beta emitters if the state determines that they are
vulnerable to that type of contamination, i.e., from nearby nuclear power
None of the surface or groundwater systems in Palm Beach County are near a
nuclear power plant which is the normal source of manmade beta emitters. The
DEP did its most recent Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP) in 2009 and
Palm Beach County has not been notified of any community water systems that
fall into the vulnerable category.
Radium-228, is principally a natural beta emitter and was included in DEP's
first round of environmental sampling in the Acreage Community. However,
during the recent testing events, DEP decided to include the manmade
emitters to conduct a more comprehensive evaluation of the affected home
sites. These analytes were also added to better address community concerns
raised relative to the Pratt Whitney Plant.
It was reported that test results indicated gamma radiation is not an
issue. Was beta radiation also tested?
No. External beta radiation levels were not tested. Beta radiation is
stopped by the skin or a few feet of air and is not considered an external
risk. However, almost all natural sources of beta radiation also have a
gamma radiation component to them. Because the gamma radiation test results
were negative, there could not be beta radiation in these samples.
When will the soil testing results be released?
The Acreage soil testing, as conducted by DEP, will be released to the
public in mid-to-late July. The data is currently being reviewed and
tabulated and the results are scheduled to be certified by mid-June. After
DEP and DOH have contacted and discussed the results with all residents who
had testing conducted on their property, this information will be released
to the public. Watch the PBCHD website for updates.
How many people have cancer in the Acreage?
In the Department of Health (DOH) Acreage Cancer Review Palm Beach County
dated August 2009, we identified 1,369 cancers in the Acreage over a
thirteen year period between 1995 -2007. This was among all age groups and
for all cancer types reported to the
Florida Cancer Data System (FCDS) during this time period.
How do you determine what is an expected community level of cancer?
First we determine the cancer rates (number of cases in a period of time
divided by the population) for the county and for the state. Next, we
multiply those rates with the area of concern population to find the
"expected" number of cases for that area. We compare the expected with the
actual rates and determine if the difference could be due to chance alone.
If the population total of the Acreage was 45,000 would the cancer
cluster designation still be attached to the community?
The increased rate of brain cancers were found among children ages 0-19 in
the Acreage. Therefore, it is not so much the total population number that
matters in this calculation, but the number of children in the Acreage which
is important since the increase was noted among children. You would expect
less than one case per year in a population of children the size of the
Acreage. We did not do theoretical estimates of how big the population of
children would need to be so that four in one year or 4-5 in a three year
period is not considered more than expected.
Should we see a greater significance to the increases shown in our local
results if we used local comparisons relative to statewide data particularly
if Palm Beach rates were higher than the state rates?
The DOH study compared rates in the Acreage to both Palm Beach County rates
and to state rates. The differences we found in the “Standardized Incidence
Ratio” SIR’s (ratio of observed versus expected) showed little change
whether the county or the state was used as a comparison. Comparison to
either rate indicated an elevation in pediatric brain cancers in the
Also, as part of the initial analysis, an area larger than the Acreage was
explored. This is the area that includes and surrounds the neighboring
communities that are included in the three zip codes used in the Acreage
(and therefore reflects populations just outside of the Acreage). Pediatric
brain cancers were marginally elevated in the larger zip code analysis for
the later years of 2005-2007 but the elevation was not as pronounced as in
the Acreage-only analyses. Removal of the Acreage population from the zip
code analyses produced similar results in that pediatric brain cancers were
marginally elevated in the period 2005-2007 but the increase was no longer
Is there a survey on adult tumors found in the Acreage comparable to the
report on pediatric brain cancers, showing the type of tumor reported, and
specifically, the incidence of glioblastoma multiform among adults?
No, a separate report or analysis on adults only was not done. In our August
Acreage Cancer Review Palm Beach County, we did report on the burden
of brain cancers and central nervous system tumors (CNS) in the Acreage for
the total population and for the pediatric population. A breakdown of
malignant brain and CNS tumors for adults and for children is presented on
Table 8, page 29 of this report. Analyses for adult brain cancers and CNS
tumors for the period 2000-2007 (analyses similar to Table 4 of the August
report but for adults) did not show an elevation among adults.
Based on the August 2009 report, we have verified six cases of glioblastoma
among adults for the period 1997-2007 (malignant primary cancers) as listed
in Table 8, page 29. We continue to use the Florida Cancer Data System to
verify diagnosis, date of diagnosis, address, attending physician and other
information related to reported cancer cases. DOH is aware of rumors that
there may be additional cases of glioblastoma multiforme (listed as
glioblastoma, NOS in our reports) among adults in the Acreage. We welcome
reports of possible additional cancers and the Acreage Neighborhood
Information Center is able to check individuals’ names and diagnoses against
the FCDS data base to assure that all cases have been counted. We encourage
residents to visit the Acreage Neighborhood Information Center for this
service and for other resources. In addition, statistics can be found at
this link for the
FloridaCHARTS showing the numbers and rates for brain and central
nervous system cancers for three year rolling rates from 2004-2006.
ABOUT THE AGENCIES
What does the Florida Department of Health do?
• The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is the lead agency in Florida for
public health services. DOH’s mission is to promote, protect and improve the
health of all people in Florida. Each Florida county has a public health
unit that works in conjunction with the Tallahassee DOH Headquarters.
What is DOH’s role?
• DOH provides scientific expertise to determine if a cluster, or an
unexpected increase or grouping of cancers is present in a community.
Collaborating with our state and federal partners, DOH seeks sources or
causes for these increases.
What does the Florida Department of Environmental Protection do?
• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the lead
agency in Florida for environmental management. DEP’s mission is to protect,
conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. There are
six DEP regulatory district offices throughout the state. DEP’s Southeast
District Office is located in West Palm Beach, and serves Okeechobee, St.
Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
What is DEP’s role?
• While DOH is the lead in public health issues, DEP is responsible for
environmental issues. DEP has conducted environmental assessments to
determine if contamination is present in groundwater or soil in The Acreage.
DEP has sampled private drinking water wells, tap water, the Seminole
Improvement District’s supply wells and collected soil samples.
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING
Where and when did DEP’s initial water sampling take place?
• During the week of August 4-8, 2009, DEP collected samples from about 50
residential drinking water wells, a child care facility and the Seminole
Improvement District water treatment plant in a 36 square mile area.
• The well testing divided the
36 square mile area
Samples were collected at five to 10 separate locations within each zone to
achieve wide coverage that is proportional to population density.
• On August 26 and 27, after reviewing the preliminary findings of the
sampling, DEP conducted additional water quality sampling. The additional
samples included all five water supply wells and two treated water locations
at the Seminole Improvement District water treatment plant (only one of the
five water supply wells was sampled in the preliminary round), 10 private
residential drinking water wells and nearby canals in the area. With this
additional sampling, DEP had tested all wells providing raw (pre-treated)
water to the Seminole Improvement District water treatment plant as well as
the finished treated water that is distributed to customers. The water
treatment plant is in compliance with DEP’s regulatory requirements.
• The additional August 26 and 27, testing focused on radionuclides,
specifically radium 226/228, due to a minor exceedance found in a sample of
pre-treated water from the first supply well at the Seminole Improvement
District water treatment plant.
• On October 1, 2009, results for the sampling were released and can be
viewed in The
Acreage Sampling Report.
What is radium?
• Radium is a naturally occurring radioactive metal found at low levels in
virtually all rock, soil, water, plants, and animals.
• Radionuclides that occur in groundwater above federal and state standards
can be easily treated to meet these standards.
Where and when did DEP’s second round of water sampling take place?
• February 12-14, 2010, DEP collected samples from 23 homes of untreated
ground water from drinking water wells and samples from water that passed
through a water treatment system or water softener, if the resident owns a
treatment system. The homes included residences where cases of pediatric
brain cancer have been identified as well as a number of other nearby homes
to serve as a control group.
• DEP also collected treated water from the Seminole Improvement District
water treatment plant and four homes as a follow-up to the first round of
What will DEP test for during the second round of water sampling?
• As before, the laboratories will analyze the water for a wide array of
contaminants that are associated with industrial (metals and organic
solvents) and agricultural (herbicides and pesticides) chemicals used now
and in the past.
• While the tests will look for more than 200 individual chemicals, most
fall into one of the following groups: petroleum, solvents, pesticides,
herbicides, wood treating chemicals, metals, nutrients, polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs) and radionuclides.
How does the laboratory process work and who will analyze these samples?
• Except for radionuclide samples, all samples taken will be transported to
the DEP Central Laboratory in Tallahassee and analyzed for the industrial
and agricultural chemicals mentioned above. Some samples will be sent to a
contract laboratory, for radionuclide testing – gross alpha, gross beta and
• At the laboratory, each sample will be logged-in and the chain-of-custody
paperwork checked again. Laboratory technicians will prepare the samples for
analysis, depending on the chemical group to be analyzed. For some groups of
chemicals, the water can be injected directly into laboratory instruments
for testing after minimal preparation. For other groups of chemicals,
several hours of preparation may be necessary before the testing can begin.
Also, the time to complete an analysis is different for each chemical group.
• As the testing instruments produce results for each sample, technicians
and chemists will review the data and compare it to quality control tests to
be sure that the instruments are producing results that are accurate and
complete for each sample.
When will results be available?
• Because the preparation and analytical time for the chemical groups are
different, it will take about four weeks, early April, for DEP to have the
final test results for all residences.
• When the results are ready, all homeowners will be contacted to set up a
time when DEP and someone from DOH can come to their residence to deliver
the results, explain what the results mean and answer any questions.
When will soil sampling begin?
• On March 2, 2010, DEP sampling teams will begin sampling soils at most of
the homes where water samples were collected during the February 12-14, 2010
sampling event. Having both water and soil samples will allow DEP to
evaluate environmental data from homes where cases of pediatric brain cancer
exist as well as additional nearby homes which are serving as a control
Will DEP be coordinating with DOH on the sampling?
• Yes, the agencies are working together. However, DEP’s investigation is
focused on an environmental assessment, including the presence of
contaminants in water or soil in The Acreage. These are slightly different
criteria from the specific areas of concern that are under review by DOH for
its epidemiological study.
Why is the state testing water and soil if risk factors for pediatric
brain cancer are unclear?
• DOH is casting a wide net for sources and causes to ensure its
investigation is as complete as possible. Both agencies have had discussions
with federal partners including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),
National Cancer Institute and the United States Environmental Protection
Agency regarding environmental testing strategies. Broad testing of well
water and soil will allow the state to assess if there are contaminants
present in the environment in The Acreage.
How can I get my water tested?
• There are several qualified commercial testing services available in the
area. DOH has a list of qualified laboratories available online at
Residents who are interested in having their water tested should consult
with these commercial testing services for their pricing.
• If the water is commercially tested, DOH recommends that samples be taken
from the kitchen tap to represent the water actually consumed. It is also
recommended that residents request analyses for gross alpha (as a measure of
radionuclides) and semi-volatiles (525 EPA method – to scan for organic
chemicals including some pesticides) and heavy metals including arsenic and
lead. DOH is available to go over the commercial lab results, explain any
findings, and answer questions residents may have about their water testing
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWS CONDUCTED
Who did the Palm Beach County Health Department interview?
• The Palm Beach County Health Department (PBCHD) interviewed 13 families
that have had a child diagnosed with a pediatric brain cancer while living
in The Acreage. These interviews were designed in consultation with the CDC
and other federal experts.
• The interview included questions related to how long the families have
lived at various addresses, schools attended, health of the child, and the
parent’s occupations and hobbies. The interview also included questions
related to diet and life style, family history of illness, immunizations,
and many other questions related to potential exposures. Interviews with all
13 families have been completed.
What happens now that those interviews have been completed?
• The PBCHD is now contacting neighboring families to serve as comparison
controls and that would be willing to provide answers to the same interview
questions. Identification of these control families and completion of
control interviews may take a number of weeks.
• After all interviews are complete, the response will be analyzed and
commonalities among case families will be assessed as well as differences
between case and control families. DOH will use these interviews to better
understand behaviors, exposures and risk factors in The Acreage community.
ABOUT PEDIATRIC BRAIN CANCER
Is it possible to find a cause for the increase in pediatric brain
cancers in The Acreage?
• DOH cannot guarantee finding a specific cause but is using its available
resources to continue the investigation. In addition, DOH has asked for help
from the CDC and several national research centers that specialize in brain
Does DOH plan to do additional analysis such as on other types of
childhood cancers or on adult cancers?
• After conducting its initial investigation, DOH determined that there is
no elevation of total cancers among children or in adult brain cancer rates
in The Acreage.
• The DOH study was in response to a citizen concern involving pediatric
brain cancers. As part of the initial analysis, total or all pediatric
cancer rates as a group were calculated. DOH noted 15 cases of any type of
cancer in a child (0-19 years of age) during 2000-2007 diagnosed in the
Acreage This number is similar and what would be expected when compared to
county and state rates.
• The initial analysis also looked at adult rates of brain cancer in The
Acreage residents. DOH noted 12 cases of brain and other central nervous
system tumors in Acreage adults (20 years of age or older) during the period
2000-2007 which again is similar to county or state rates.
• Based on the findings, DOH is focusing its study efforts on pediatric
How many cases of pediatric brain cancer have been identified?
• There are 13 cases of pediatric brain cancers diagnosed among children
living in the Acreage during the years 1994-2008. Cases occurring in
2009-2010 have not yet been verified in the state cancer registry. DOH will
continue to review the registry for cases as well as verify any cases that
are reported directly to the PBCHD.
• Although some facilities do take longer, hospitals, physicians and
laboratories have six months from diagnoses to report to the Florida Cancer
Data System (FCDS). Once reported, the registry must verify the information
which may take months. For this reason, cases reported in mid to late 2009
may not yet appear in FCDS records.
What if I know of a case of pediatric brain cancer that is not in the
• The analyses and study includes cases of pediatric brain cancer that were
diagnosed between 1994 and 2008 among children living in he Acreage.
Children who were diagnosed before they moved in or after they left The
Acreage were not included. Children who live outside of The Acreage are also
not part of the study.
• Please contact the Palm Beach County Health Department if there are any
families with children who have pediatric brain cancer that meets these
criteria and that have not been contacted by the Department.
There have been reports of at least 50 or as many as 80 adult brain
cancers in the community. Why are DOH numbers for adult brain cancer lower?
• DOH numbers are based on verified diagnosis of primary adult brain cancers
that occurred in residents living in The Acreage. Considering benign,
borderline and malignant brain cancers between 2004 and 2007, 18 cases have
• Several factors can lead to differences between state counts and community
counts. For example, the community counts may include:
- cases diagnosed within a different time frame,
- individuals who were not diagnosed while living in The Acreage
(former residents or new residents who moved in with the diagnosis),
- brain cancers that are a result of metastasis from other cancers,
- diagnoses of other brain conditions that are not considered cancer,
- benign and borderline brain cancers diagnosed before 2004 (the year
the state began collecting data on these types).
What are the causes of pediatric brain cancer and why can’t the state
begin testing for specific causes?
Current medical science does not provide clear environmental causes for most
types of pediatric brain cancers. A few factors are known to be related and
these include the presence of an inherited syndrome and therapeutic
radiation of the head. Experimental evidence exists to suggest a relation
between pediatric brain cancers and ingestion of cured meats (N-nitroso
compounds) and exposure to polyoma viruses although these have not been
fully supported by epidemiologic studies.
• Living on a farm or having a parent that does farm work has also been
shown to be associated with an increase in pediatric brain cancers but the
set of factors that contributes to this is not known.
• Factors such as epilepsy, brain injury, electromagnetic fields, maternal
factors, immunizations, childhood illnesses and other potential risk factors
have been mentioned in research papers but have not consistently shown an
PRATT & WHITNEY
Why isn’t DEP more closely scrutinizing the nearby Pratt & Whitney
• The Pratt & Whitney facility is currently in compliance with all DEP
hazardous waste regulations. The facility has a hazardous waste permit that
includes operational requirements for a hazardous waste storage area and
requirements for the continuation of corrective actions regarding past
contamination. As part of the oversight there are more than 400 groundwater
monitoring wells at this facility to demonstrate compliance with current
permits and to detect whether contamination has the potential to spread
beyond its current location.
Has contamination spread beyond the Pratt & Whitney property boundary?
• There are a number of wells along the southern boundary of the Pratt &
Whitney property that are monitored semi-annually to demonstrate that no
contamination has migrated from the property.
• Those monitoring wells have shown the migration of a chemical called
1,4-dioxane in the groundwater beyond the property boundaries onto the J.W.
Corbett Wildlife Management Area (WMA). All other chemicals being monitored
in the groundwater are confined within the property boundaries of Pratt &
Whitney. Monitoring wells installed on the WMA indicate the 1,4-dioxane had
migrated approximately 1,000 feet south of the Pratt & Whitney property
line. The facility is actively working to demonstrate to DEP that this is
the extent of contamination migration and to ensure that there is no risk to
human health or the environment.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY’S
What can I do to protect my family during this testing period?
• Since everyone has a unique health profile, it is important that specific
health questions about family members be discussed with the primary health
care provider. This includes reporting any unusual signs or symptoms such as
severe headaches, changes in vision, lack of balance, changes in speech
patterns, or any other symptoms of concern.
• Pediatricians and family practice physicians have been advised that DOH is
looking into an increase in pediatric brain cancers. DOH will continue to
update area physicians on the progress of the investigation.
CANCER DATA SYSTEM (FCDS)
April 30, 2010 (Posted May 3, 2010)
Can cancer clusters be
identified through the FCDS registry?
• Yes, the FCDS data are sufficient to
identify a cancer ‘cluster.’ However, disease clusters are very difficult
to detect and often times, once investigated, what appeared to be a
‘cluster’ of cancer is not. There are many reasons for this such as
miss-classification of the cancer and the population at risk (as discussed
below), the length of residence in the area and possibly the most difficult
of all, the cause and effect of cancer. Most cancers do not have a clear
cause (etiology). The DOH relies on a variety of sources to report
clusters of disease. People often detect outbreaks more quickly than the
data can. For example, for the majority of our communicable diseases we rely
on the public or health care providers to report outbreaks, and we estimate
about 75% of our food borne outbreaks are detected that way.
• Cancer data collected by
the FCDS are used by the Florida Department of Health (DOH), other state
agencies, federal agencies, non-governmental agencies, local coalitions,
health care providers, and researchers to learn more as to the causes of
cancer and the pattern of its occurrence.
Why didn’t the Department of
Health (DOH) surveillance systems pick up the cancer cluster, why did it
take a private citizen to report the cluster?
• Several factors make it difficult for
the DOH to “pick up” cancer clusters. Cancer occurrence fluctuates from year
to year in small areas. The number of reported cases might be higher than
expected in one year or in several years, but the rates would go back to
“normal” in the following years. To determine if there is a cluster,
epidemiologists need to compare the cancer rates, instead of numbers, in the
area of concern to either overall county rates or state rates. However,
except in Census years, there is no available source for good population
data in small areas for calculating cancer rates. More importantly, the
Department does not have data on how long people have lived in the area of
concern in order to assess if the increased cancer rates are linked to local
residential history. (NOTE: The Acreage DOH in-depth study interviews will
provide that specific residence information).
• There are many factors affecting the data
collection, analysis and reporting of ‘Cancer Clusters.’
- It is imperative to
define and classify the cancer correctly. A primary brain cancer is very
different from a brain cancer that has spread to the brain from a
different site of origin (metastatic disease).
- The primary brain
cancer is counted, the metastatic cancer is not. A primary breast
cancer is very different from a primary colon cancer, and so on.
- Secondly, you must
have all the cancers reported among residents in that area
- You cannot use
a subset or a sample of these cases.
- Thirdly, you must have
accurate population counts for the area and time period in question.
- The population data
must be accurate at the Census ‘block group’ and ‘census tract’ level.
Using zip codes for cluster research is very difficult and can be
problematic because zip code boundaries change based on the needs of the
Postmaster. It is very difficult to accurately connect a cancer case to
a zip code area over time.
Incomplete or inaccurate data at any one of the
steps above may lead to inaccurate conclusions.
• The FCDS does make data available for cancer
researchers who study the epidemiology and causes of cancer for more in
depth investigations. In short, zip codes and counties are too large to
detect clusters. Reporting of clusters based on this level of geography is
not accurate and misleading.
• Cancer is very
serious and frightening, and unfortunately a common disease. Current
information shows that approximately one out of three Americans will develop
cancer in their lifetime, and cancer will affect three out of four
families. Also, the risk of developing cancer increases with age, so as the
population ages, more cases of cancer in our communities are expected.
Was there a change in
the law in 2004 or at any time that modified classifying a "cancer cluster"
to include both benign tumors and actual cancer, when previously it was only
actual number of cancer cases? How did this affect the analysis done in the
• Prior to 2004, the FCDS, by law
collected information on all malignant tumors, regardless of anatomical
sites, diagnosed among residents of the state of Florida. FCDS was not
allowed to collect information on other diagnoses such as benign tumors.
Please remember that the term “cancer” is defined as a malignant tumor
In 2004, the law changed, and the Florida Cancer Data System (FCDS)
started collecting benign and borderline brain and central nervous system
tumors as required by new federal law, the Benign Brain Tumor Cancer
Registries Amendment Act, Public Law 107-260 signed by President Bush in
• In addressing the
questions raised by Acreage residents, in the years 1981 through 2003,
before the law changed and the Registry was only collecting information on
malignant tumors, the FCDS can only calculate the expected and observed
number of cases based on data reported to the registry -- malignant tumors.
Since the new federal requirements in 2004, the FCDS
collects information on malignant, borderline, and benign brain and central
nervous system tumors. Because of this additional data the FCDS can
now calculate rates from 2004 going forward for malignant as well as for
benign/borderline tumors of the brain and central nervous system combined or
• Some individuals have inquired
if this means that the "old data
changed." The answer is "No." The "old data" cannot be changed or updated
to include data that were never collected by the FCDS. Borderline and
benign brain and central nervous system tumors diagnosed before 2004 were
not added to the registry after the fact. During the years from 1981 to
2003 there was no surveillance done by the FCDS or any other health agency
on the occurrence of benign and borderline tumors. Before 2004, the FCDS collected
and reported on malignant tumors only.
The diagnosis for a malignant tumor does not change. Also,
tumors considered benign or borderline before 2004 did not change to become
classified as malignant. In other words,
the law simply allowed for the collection of various types of brain tumors
and there were no changes in the actual classification of these brain
The addition of benign and borderline brain and CNS tumor cases to
the registry in 2004 does not alter the finding of increased rates of
pediatric brain cancers in the Acreage.
In the Tables 7 or 10 of the
Acreage Cancer Review Report of August 2009, pages 27 & 30, –the ratio
of what we expected to see and what actually occurred was increased.
When will the data for 2009
be available for inclusion in analysis?
• The reporting deadline for 2009 cases
is in June 2010. There is an additional period of time for the Florida
Cancer data System (FCDS) to compare reported records with multiple other
sources of data for case findings and to follow back with medical facilities
for record verification. The 2009 data will be provisionally
available sometime in December of 2010, and will be considered a final data
set later in 2012.
Are all medical
facilities being asked to report new cases at time of diagnosis as we are in
the middle of a vital study to save lives and make important decisions for
people residing in the Acreage community?
• We want to have the most current and accurate information
available as we continue our investigation. We are working closely with the
Florida Cancer Data Registry to speed the process of evaluation and
confirmation of reported cases. We have also reached out to area physicians
to remind them that it is very important that all cases are reported to the
registry as quickly as possible. We have developed a secure communication
link from the Neighborhood Information Center so we will be able to check
and see if individual cancers have been reported to the registry.
Acreage residents are able to check whether their case or a
family members’ case (with appropriate documentation) have been reported to
the registry. If no record exists, the registry will be able to explore why
this may not have occurred if the cancer is of a type that should be
reported and if enough time has passed that it is likely to have been
reported. If you wish to use this service, please be sure to bring a photo
id and legal documentation if you are requesting this on behalf of a family
member. Please call the Acreage Neighborhood Information Center at
(561) 798-7082 to determine what documents are needed and if you
have questions about the process. We are hoping that this will be a
valuable resource to the Acreage residents concerned about the registry.
you used the Department of Veterans Affairs Central Cancer Registry in
conjunction with our state cancer registries in order to obtain incident
• Presently, the rate of occurrence for
new cancers diagnosed in the state of Florida does not include data from the
Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals located throughout the state.
In the past, VA hospitals were not required to report to the state
cancer registries as VA medical facilities are subject to federal
jurisdictions, not state. In October 2009, the Department of Veterans
Affairs issued Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Directive 2009-046
providing policy on releasing VA central cancer registry data to state
cancer registries to ensure a complete understanding of the national cancer
burden and mortality. The FCDS is working with the Chief Medical Officer
over the VA hospitals located in Florida to ensure these hospitals will
report to the FCDS starting with cancers diagnosed in 2010.
CONTACTS & MORE INFORMATION
Whom can residents contact at DOH for more information?
• For additional questions, residents can contact the Palm Beach County
Health Department at 800 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach, FL 33401. Visit
the website www.pbchd.com, or call the
main telephone number for information (561)840-4500.
Whom can residents contact at DEP for more information?
• For additional questions about environmental issues, residents can contact
DEP’s Southeast District Office Outreach Coordinator, Cristina Llorens, at
(561) 681-6605 or Cristina.Llorens@dep.state.fl.us.
How can I keep up-to-date on The Acreage investigation?
• DOH is opening a resident’s resource office in The Acreage and will be
sending regular updates to you by email. In addition, DOH is updating The
Acreage webpage at www.pbchd.com as new information becomes available.
• DOH is adding a function to the Palm Beach County Health Department so you
can sign up for email alerts that will alert you when new information is
What has been DEP’s public outreach effort to inform the public?
• DEP has developed a web site,
dedicated to The Acreage that houses relevant information to keep the public
• Staff members are also available to answer questions about The Acreage and
DEP’s environmental assessment projects.
This website will be updated regularly by the Palm Beach County Health