Scientists are now calling Florida a cancer hot spot as adult cancer rate in the state is the second highest in the country. Researchers find that Florida also has the sixth largest number of hazardous waste sites, or Superfund sites, in the US. The new study correlates the presence of hazardous waste sites and frequency of cancer in a given area.
Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and the University of Florida found a strong association in cancer incidence rates and a number of Superfund sites. Previous studies support the new finding as they show that hazardous waste sites have the potential to adversely affect human health and disrupt ecological systems. Researchers believe this discovery could help direct public health efforts in the state.
The study identifies Florida as a cancer hot spot after records of adults diagnosed with cancer were reviewed and found to have dramatically increased. The team of researchers looked at cancer rates in the state from 1986 to 2010 and determined if there were differences or associations regarding cancer incidence in counties that contain Superfund sites compared to counties that do not. Dr. Emily Leary, assistant professor at the MU School of Medicine and co-author of the study explained that they found the rate of cancer incidence increased by more than 6 percent in counties with Superfund sites, the MedicalXpress reports.
In Florida, there are currently 77 sites that have been classified as Superfund sites by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The sites are designated by the government as eligible for long term clean up of hazardous pollutants or substances. They are often the result of industrial pollution and pose threat to human health and environment, the Science Daily reports.
Dr. Alexander Kirpich, the co-author of the study, recommends that cancer hot spots should be given more attention by public health agencies. He adds that policies must be adjusted to reduce toxic environmental waste. He also talks about how more researches are needed to better understand the link and what it means for residents in Florida.