Maryland health department expands Fort Detrick cancer cluster investigation (video)
The Maryland Department of Health is taking a closer look into a possible cluster of cancer cases around Fort Detrick in Frederick. Health officials say some types of cancer are appearing in people at an earlier age in that area compared to other parts of Maryland.
At a meeting with community members Monday night, health officials announced they would expand their investigation of cancer cases in the area surrounding Fort Detrick to include records dating to 1992. A preliminary report only looked at cancer cases in the last decade.
The U.S. Army says it tested Agent Orange, a mix of herbicides used in the Vietnam War, at Fort Detrick from 1944 to 1963. Some nearby residents say their health has been affected by exposure to Agent Orange and other toxins tested at the Army installation.
"I've been living with this all my life," said long-time Frederick resident Grace Koehl, 87.
Koehl said she lost eight family members to cancer from exposure to pathogens at neighboring Fort Detrick.
Other nearby residents though are more hesitant to link chemical testing at Detrick with a larger community health issue.
"When it concerns health and people have become ill, there's a lot of emotion that takes place and somehow we need to separate that out and get to the facts of the matter," said Bonnie Duggan, who has lived in her home on Military Road, across from the Fort for 21 years.
Duggan said many of her neighbors work at Fort Detrick.
"They wouldn't be putting their lives and their families at risk if they thought there was a concern about our health and safety," Duggan said.
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