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Jun 22, 2016 6:53 PM

Gov. Hassan's Cancer Cluster Task Force hopes to solve the mystery

PORTSMOUTH — An update to an NH1 News Special: Cancer Cluster Mystery, the Seacoast's Cancer Cluster has gotten the governor's attention.

In 2014, worried parents contacted the Department of Health and Human Services asking the state to investigate what could be causing rare cancers in children in and around Rye.

After months of town meetings with state agencies, the governor's cancer cluster task force began it's work today.

"It's up to people in the environment to prove that it's a carcinogen, and you can imagine how difficult that is," said Rep. Thomas Sherman of Rye. "It takes years and years and years."

DHHS and the Department of Environmental Services have been looking at what factors may be causing two very rare childhood cancers, Rhabdomyosarcoma and Pleuropulmonary Blastoma which only is diagnosed in 30 kids each year. One family has two children who have PPB.

Susan Kindstedt, mother of children with PPB, stated to the task force meeting, said "I'm curious what may have been in their environment that caused both of them to get it."

Today in Portsmouth, parents, concerned residents, legislators and representatives from state agencies and a spokesperson for Governor Maggie Hassan met to discuss the status of the investigation and help navigate through an unchartered territory.

"There are so many moving parts in this investigation," said Rep. Sherman.

The state recently released information about blood tests from people who worked on Pease Tradeport for PFOA exposure.

Testing of well water started in Greenland near the Coakley Landfill superfund site, but parents and residents are pushing for more.

"The purpose is to bring the community conversations to one central location," said Marilee Nihan, Deputy Commissioner of DHHS.

The state says they have almost finalized the questionnaire for the affected families, as they try to determine what's in the water? what's in the air? And what's in the ground? The questionnaire is expected to include questions related to exposures to chemicals like lawn care pesticides and foods. The Governor's task force will meet again in July 20.

More information on the Cancer Cluster can be found here.

You can also find Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this investigates series on our website.

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