Iredell County leaders support Senate bill to research 'cancer clusters'

Leaders in Iredell County are getting serious about 'cancer clusters.' On Tuesday, they voted on a resolution to get results for those who are sick.

Many are worried that you could have an elevated risk of developing cancer depending on where you live. That’s why leaders are throwing support behind a Senate bill (SB 297) to study cancer hot spots statewide.

The decision these commissioners just made could have a far-reaching impact on Iredell County residents.

“We don't know what we don't know,” said Iredell Board of Commissioners Chairman, James Mallory III, “and we're trying to figure out the facts on the ground,”

Here are the facts: There have been two so-called hot spots for cancer in our area. There was a ‘cluster’ ocular melanoma in Huntersville, and in Iredell County-- thyroid cancer. Now, the state wants to assemble a cancer research panel to study cancer clusters in North Carolina.

“Probably went on too long before we realized there was a cancer cluster in our county,” said Councilmember Jeff McNeely, “and I’m hoping for us and the other 11 counties with increased cancer risk, this'll be a start to where we can predict these patterns sooner and find the causes and the cures,”

The UNC panel will use state data to determine if there are certain cancer clusters throughout the state.

"Thyroid cancer or cancer of any type is very devastating to families, and you have a human tendency to want to blame something,” Linda Guld said.

Earlier this year, the North Carolina Health Department determined the spike in thyroid cancer in Iredell county was not caused by coal ash.

“Although coal ash can contain radionuclides, there are no published studies to support an association between coal ash exposure and thyroid cancer,” the study stated. 

The resolution to support SB 297 is a start to a better understanding.

“I think what it does is it brings attention and with attention comes resources to try to solve a problem or at least let people know the nature of the problem,” Mallory III said.

The resolution supports the state's effort, and locally, they're doing testing too.

Virginia Tech sampled individual people's well water in Iredell County, and on Thursday, they're going to reveal those results of what elements are in people's well water and the potential risks involved.