The Acreage Cancer Scare: Tests Show Water, Soil at Two Schools OK

Water and soil samples taken from two schools in The Acreage have tested negative for <"">contaminants, according to a report on Residents of The Acreage raised concerns earlier this summer that the Florida community might be the sight of a cancer cluster after several residents – including children – were diagnosed with brain tumors.

The water and soil testing at Western Pines Community Middle and Golden Grove Elementary was part of Palm Beach County’s investigation into the cancer cases. According to, the samples were tested for chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. County Administrator Bob Weisman told that the water at the schools – which comes from a public water plant – was “remarkably clean”.

The Florida Health Department is still waiting for the results from tests of water in area wells and water lines. Those test results could come back in about a month.

While the news of the favorable tests at the schools was met with relief by many residents of The Acreage, they told that they were still concerned that their community is a cancer cluster. Because of residents’ concerns, the Florida Department of Health has been gathering basic information on people in the area who have had brain cancer. An investigation will be launched if cancer rates in The Acreage turn out to be higher than what is normal. The results of the Departments’ probe should be available in about two weeks.

In June, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., called on both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate a possible cancer cluster after several children, all of whom live a few miles apart in The Acreage, developed brain tumors.

According to the CDC, a cancer cluster is defined as a greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area over a period of time. Cancer cases are more likely to represent a cancer cluster if they involve (1) one type of cancer, (2) a rare type of cancer, or (3) a type of cancer in a group not usually affected by that cancer, such as a cancer in children.

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