April 7, 1999
Mr. Robert Gage
Montgomery County Health Department
1 Layfayette Plaza, Suite 201
Swede and Airy Streets
Norristown, Pa. 19404
Dear Mr. Gage,
We understand that you have been requested to submit a report to the Montgomery County Commissioners to explain the reasons for the high infant mortality rates in Pottstown and Norristown.
ACE is very alarmed at the high infant mortality rates in the Pottstown area. We do not agree that it is good news that these numbers are better than state and national statistics – every infant death is one too many. It is all bad news. All the levels are too high.
We strongly agree that all pregnant women, as well as new mothers and babies, should have access to health care, not just 90%. However, we believe you must also consider the excessive hazardous pollution problems in Pottstown as another reason for our high infant mortality.
It is always easy, and often a mistake, to attribute high illness and death rates solely to life style, lack of education, poverty, lack of transportation and race. We know that people of all races, who may be poor, who may lack education, who may have no transportation, often also live nearer to waste sites than people who are well educated, have money, cars and pure air and water available to them. That is what the Cerrell Report tells us. This report also tells us that industry studies areas that are home to people with good work ethics, but who are undereducated and not so well off. These are the communities that are targeted for the siting of polluting industries. This is what we call DUMPING on POTTSTOWN.
Your health department cancer investigation revealed that Pottstown already has three significantly elevated cancers. Whether or not there are a lot of conclusive studies showing that living near pollution causes infant mortality, neither are there studies which show it is safe or a good idea to be forced to live with the kinds of pollution found in this area.
ACE is in the process of looking at health issues in a new way. We want to look at the kinds of toxic pollution, which people have been exposed to, and which could cause harm to their health and the health of their offspring. ACE is very concerned about endocrine disrupters, which have been shown to cause transgenerational health problems.
As you know, the news is full of purple pigs, purple plants, and dying and malformed cows. It is our understanding that this can be caused by uranium releases. We touch on this subject as a way of underlining that there are many radioactive and toxic sites in the Greater Pottstown area, including the Limerick Nuclear Generating Plant.
We hope your investigation of infant mortality will go well beyond blaming the victims and their parents. We urge you to consider proximity to pollution and radioactivity as possible causes for high infant mortality in this area. There are studies on both subjects available.
Please consider this letter a request for you to place ACE on the list of those who will receive your infant mortality report.
Dr. Lewis Cuthbert
U. S. Representative Holden
U. S. Representative Hoeffel
Montgomery County Commissioners
Pottstown Mayor Nancy Jones
Tri County Health Partnership
The Pottstown Mercury
P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464