A very intriguing case with local implications is about to unfold next week in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A group of 31 people that lived or had businesses in McHenry County, Illinois is suing Rohm and Haas Chemicals, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical. The plaintiffs are alleging that for over 50 years, Rohm and Haas spilled, leaked and dumped toxic chemicals into the soil and groundwater near its Ringwood plant, located in McHenry, County, Illinois. The plaintiffs[all of whom lived or worked near the Ringwood plant] are alleging that as a result of that dumping, 17 of them were ultimately diagnosed with malignant brain cancer. Another 13 were diagnosed with benign brain cancer. The remaining plaintiff needed a liver transplant due to severe organ toxicity. Ten of the plaintiffs[ranging in age from 42 to 74]have died.
Aaron Freiwald, the Philadelphia lawyer representing the plaintiffs claims that this group of patients represents the largest brain “cancer cluster” in a non-work environment. A “cancer cluster”, according to the National Cancer Institute, is suspected when several members of the same family, friends, neighbors or co-workers are diagnosed with the same or related cancer. Frewald indicated that a pathologist is going to testify that brain tissue from the patients with brain cancer shows environmental damage.
Rohm and Haas officials deny that there is any connection between the dumping and the health of the plaintiffs. The company cited reports from the McHenry County Health Department, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control – reports the company claimed disputed the existence of any cancer cluster. Freiwald disputes the findings, saying that incorrect data was used. The trial is expected to last 2 to 4 months.