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Cluster Mystery: Epidemic and the Children of Woburn, Mass

Robert J. McCunney, MD, MPH
JAMA. 1987;258(7):969-971. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400070107047.
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How serious a problem is hazardous waste to the health of America? According to an Office of Technology Assessment report, about 10 000 hazardous waste sites pose a serious threat to public health (March 1985). The Office of Technology Assessment, a research arm of Congress, claims that cleanup costs can amount to $1000 per house-hold. Toxic dumps where steel drums have been left have often deteriorated, resulting in leaks that can contaminate the water supply. No state is free from these dumps.

Some areas of the country have drawn greater attention because of their hazardous waste problems, especially Times Beach, Love Canal, and Woburn, Mass, the main focus of Cluster Mystery. Attention was called to the possible role of hazardous waste in contaminating the water supply in Woburn, a suburb north of Boston, when a local minister held a town meeting to propose an approach to investigating a potential link

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