Creosote Contamination in Houston’s 5th Ward Blamed for Childhood Cancer Cluster.
In 2019, the Texas Department of State Health confirmed a cancer cluster in the northeast Houston area known as the 5th Ward. They verified what residents had known for years; higher rates of lung, esophagus, and throat cancer among adults in the area.
A new report released this January shows children in the 5th Ward are being sickened with Leukemia at nearly five times the expected rate.
What is Causing the Cancer?
Creosote is a cancer-causing chemical once used to treat wooden rail ties at an old railroad facility, now owned by Union Pacific. The chemical seeped into the ground and created a plume that spread out in the area around the 5th Ward. As a result, people can come in contact with the contaminated earth through groundwater or microscopic dust in the air.
Advocates are working to force Union Pacific to relocate the residents and create a buffer between the contaminated earth and at-risk homes. The hope is that the EPA will name the area as a Super Fund site, so Federal resources can be used to remediate the area entirely.
More on Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
ALL is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It is a type of cancer that develops and worsens very quickly, so prompt diagnosis is essential. Early warning signs are:
- being very tired, weak, or pale
- swollen lymph nodes
- infections (like bronchitis or tonsillitis) that keep coming back
- a regular fever
- night sweats
- bruising or petechiae (tiny red spots on the skin caused by easy bleeding)
- bone and joint pain
- belly pain (because cancerous blood cells build up in organs like the kidneys, liver, and spleen)
For more information on childhood ALL, its diagnosis, and treatment visit cancer.gov.