What We Know

Scientific Evidence and PA Cancer Registry Statistics

  1. Our air fails US Health Standards
  2. We breathe the top 10 % of the most carcinogenic and unhealthy air in the nation
  3. That does not include the most carcinogenic emissions we breathe from Pottstown Landfill gas, radiation and dioxin – they are not required to be monitored or reported.
  4. The area defined by the Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD) to be most impacted by Pottstown Landfill emissions includes:
    1. West Pottsgrove
    2. Upper Pottsgrove
    3. Lower Pottsgrove
    4. Pottstown
    5. North Coventry, Chester County
    6. Douglass, Berks Township, Berks County

5.  1998 – For these municipalities around the Pottstown Landfill, the MCHD found a double Leukemia rate compared to the state, lung cancer 22% to 33% higher than the tri county, and cervical cancer higher than the tri county.  PA Cancer Registry (1985 to 1994)

6.  MCHD did no investigation of Pottstown Landfill gas, blamed the victims, and allowed DEP to give an air permit for another landfill expansion, the Eastern Expansion, two weeks after the cancer report.

7.  In September, 2002, a national statistician volunteered his time to update the MCHD report for the same municipalities around the Pottstown Landfill using PA Cancer Registry data (1995 to 1999).  Total newly diagnosed cancer cases by age group were used, and statistics were compared to national and state averages.

8.  Results confirmed what ACE had suspected for many years – Our children are the most vulnerable to the kinds of hazardous substances emitted into our air every day, 24 hours a day, by the Pottstown Landfill.

9.  Childhood Cancer Rates for those same municipalities around the Pottstown Landfill were 92.5% above the national average and almost 100 % above state and tri county averages.

10. Children are the purest population.  They are the greatest indicator of the health of a community.  In general, they don’t smoke, drink, work in polluted industries, or engage in other risky behaviors.  

11. Children in those municipalities around the Pottstown Landfill do not eat 92.5% more potato chips and French fries, get their homes and yards spayed that much more with pesticides, have their homes cleaned and schools cleaned that much more with hazardous cleaning products, etc., than children in general across the nation, state, or tri county.    

12. Childhood Cancer Rates for children in the municipalities around the landfill have risen steadily since Waste Management bought the Pottstown Landfill in 1984 and sacrificed our community to the hazardous gases and leachate from everyone else’s dangerous waste.

       13.  Historical evidence. – Childhood Cancer Rates

            About 30% above the national average in the late 1980’s

            About 60% above the national average in the early 1990’s

            About 90% above the national average in the late 1990’s.  

14.  These shocking increases in Childhood Cancer rates can not be blamed on radon and old industrial pollution. Those contributing factors remain constant.

15.  What we do know is that DEP issues one pollution permit after the other to the Pottstown Landfill, regardless of the increasing risks to our children and our community as a whole.

16.  These pollution permits bring us millions of pounds of dangerous waste every day, which   break down into the hazardous gases and leachate that threaten the health of thousands of our children who attend 29 schools and day cares within 3 miles of the Pottstown Landfill.

17.  Most of these children also live within 3 miles of the Pottstown Landfill.  They can not escape being exposed to Pottstown Landfill’s hazardous gas, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The gas gets into their homes and schools, onto their playgrounds, parks, and yards.  The persistent chemicals can eventually get into their water and the food chain.

18. The hazardous substances from Pottstown Landfill gas get into the children’s bodies through breathing them into their lungs, through their skin, and even through their eyes.

19.  Some of these toxins do their damage and are eliminated through bodily processes.  Others, like dioxins, store in body fat and continue to do damage. Heavy metals can even be measured in the hair.

20.  How do we know the children can have the kinds of hazardous substances in their bodies which we are exposed to daily from Pottstown Landfill gas? 

     CDC’s Second National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals confirmed vast numbers of chemicals and heavy metals in humans.   They were found in the urine and blood of the people studied.  

21.  How do we know children are more vulnerable to the kinds of chemicals emitted into our air from Pottstown Landfill gas 24 hours a day, every day?   March, 2003, it was reported that EPA said exposure for young children is significantly more dangerous from mutagenic chemicals, or those that cause gene damage.   Mutagenic chemicals cause a 10 times greater risk of a future cancer in children under 2 and in fetuses when the mother is exposed.   EPA says that children 3 to 15 may face a risk at least 3 times greater than adults.   

                --- Sadly, EPA’s tougher proposed guidelines will do little to protect our children from the Pottstown Landfill gas, as it is exempt from          reporting all its mutagenic emissions. 

22. Dr. Philip Landrigan warned of “endocrine disrupting chemicals,” which are linked to early puberty in girls, growing numbers of testicular cancer in boys and penis malformation called hypospadia, all which have been documented to be increasing.

      --- We suspect these conditions could be found frequently around the Pottstown Landfill.

23.  Science News January 11, 2003  Vol. 163  Mom’s POPs, Son’s Problems

      Testicular cancer tied to a fetus’ pollutant contact.   Women who have had substantial exposure to certain environmental pollutants are more likely to bear sons who develop testicular cancers.

      --- These are the same pollutants emitted with Pottstown Landfill gas every day.   ACE has been told of a one young Pottsgrove boy who died from testicular cancer recently.  

      We suspect that our health survey may uncover more.

24.  “In Harm’s Way:  Toxic Threats To Child Development” was published by Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility.  This report links toxic exposures during early childhood to lifelong disabilities, attention disorders, learning disabilities, reduced IQ, and poorly-controlled aggression.          

      --- Such toxic exposures are intensified every day for children in the municipalities around the Pottstown Landfill, who are forced to continuously breathe landfill gas, and thus be constantly exposed to the kinds of chemicals and metals which are linked to learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and autism.

25.  Seven years of anecdotal reports of what seemed to be far too many Greater Pottstown   Area children with ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities led ACE to pursue the help of   a Penn State graduate class to compare learning disabilities in our community to least polluted communities in PA as well as state averages. 

26.  While only county totals were easily accessible, the findings were astounding.

     Learning disabilities in Montgomery County increased 94% from 1990 to 2000.  That increase was more than doubled the state at 46.6%.  The increase for least polluted PA counties was 40.2 %.

      ---This is not surprising, since Montgomery County as a whole is identified by Scorecard to be one of the most polluted counties in the nation.

      ---We suspect the Pottstown Landfill and Occidental Chemical in the Greater Pottstown Area are major factors, as their hazardous air emissions travel downwind into the county.        

      ---We suspect that our children, who are closest to the sources, are the most impacted by the potent neurotoxins emitted into our air by these facilities.     

      ---Just one example – Vinyl Chloride.    Occidental alone emitted over 1 ½ million pounds of vinyl chloride into our children’s air since 1988.   Pottstown Landfill also emits vinyl chloride (but in unknown amounts), only about 4 miles upwind from Oxy.

          There are 25 schools and day cares within 2 miles of Occidental and 29 within 3 miles of the landfill.   Many overlap.

      In a February, 2003, speech by Colin Powell at the UN Security Council, he states that vinyl chloride is a precursor to chemical weapons; that vinyl chloride is a precursor for nerve and blister agents.

                  ---What is happening to our children should be considered a slow form of chemical warfare.

                  ---Vinyl chloride has been found to be 10 to 20 times higher than EPA’s health benchmarks in many parts of Montgomery County with Occidental Chemical in Pottstown as the only listed emitter – Pottstown Landfill does not have to report to the Toxic Release Inventory.

      ---Another example is mercury from the Pottstown Landfill.   Mercury can damage the brain and central nervous system.   Landfills make mercury even more toxic, as a result of its chemical modification by bacteria, which turns mercury into its most poisonous embodiment, methyl mercury. (Science News – Week of July 7, 2001; Vol. 160, No. 1)

      ---Landfill gas contains about ½ methane – Methane alone could lead to learning problems.   For more info on health effects of methane and other landfill chemicals see www.acereport.org.

27.  Pottstown Memorial Medical Center (PMMC) Physicians

            July, 2001, the majority of physicians at PMMC sent a letter to Governor Ridge.   November, 2001 they resubmitted it to Governor Schweiker.  The letter said:

a.        “We cannot risk any more pollution problems.”

b.       “You need to consider how concerned our doctors are as they see a significant increase in pollution-induced disease”

c.        “Specifically, those most concerned are the pulmonologists, allergists, pediatricians and obstetricians. Family physicians keep expressing more concerns as well.”

---This confirms the need to define patterns of “ALL” pollution related illnesses around Pottstown Landfill and Occidental Chemical.   Note the kinds of physicians most concerned.  Why aren’t cancer physicians concerned knowing confirmed childhood cancer statistics here?

Area physician, Dr. Jean Flood, said “Many of the children I treat have affluent parents.  They’re the cream of the crop.  They eat organic food and drink bottled water.  The problem is there’s no place for them to run, no place to hide from the air we breathe,” and, “Access to medical care does not make people healthy.  Access to clean air, clean food, and clean water is what people need.”

What We Don’t Know - Why We Must Find Out!

Children have a tough enough time growing up right now.  They deserve the right to grow up in a safe, healthy environment   As a community we must start to protect our children!   To do this we must face the pollution problems and deal with them. 


Excessive health problems have been evident in the Greater Pottstown Area since January, 1998.  All reports have shown significant health problems, including the PA Cancer Registry data, reports from Penn State graduate students, physicians from two area hospitals, and 7 years of anecdotal data to ACE from area residents.   


We must know as a community what is really going on to force elected state officials, DEP, and the health department to deal with the facts and not hide from their responsibilities.

But, without funding to circulate these surveys, to be successful, ACE will need the help of as many people in the community as possible.  We are urging all families to complete, return, and distribute the ACE Health Surveys in their neighborhoods and to their friends and families, including those who moved away.    We also ask that people include all family members or neighbors who have died since 1980. 

Call ACE (610) 326-6433 to get Health Surveys 

Download them or e-mail them from http://www.acereport.org/survey.html 

This survey is one of our best hopes to try to save our children’s future.  Get involved now.  Share your family information for change and encourage others to do the same.   Remember – Apathetic, fearful, and polite people get poisoned. 

P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464

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