Fla. Dept. of Health releases possible cancer cluster findings

Report shows no indication for increase in cancer cases in 33147 zip code

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DORAL, Fla. - Florida Department of Health has ruled out the possibility of a cancer cluster in a northwest Miami-Dade County neighborhood.

People living in the neighborhood around Northwest 83rd Street and 36th Avenue had asked for an investigation and blamed a recycling plant in the area for the possible cancer cluster. They also reported more cases of asthma and miscarriages.

Miami, FL 33147

The report identified 693 cases from 2000-2010 in the 33147 zip code.

The report found no indication that the number of newly diagnosed cancer cases increased in the area.

"Our epidemiologist, specialist in the area of epidemiology of cancer have studied the area very well based on the cancer registry information that we have in our community, and based on the incidents and based on many other methodologies that they utilized, at the end of the day, they have found that this community is not identified as a cancer cluster," said Lillian Rivera with the Miami-Dade Health Department.

Juan Heredia is not happy about the report.

"We never open the back door or the window because all the dust and the pollution comes inside," said Heredia.

Heredia has lived in his northwest Miami-Dade home for more than 30 years. He remembers a time when he enjoyed his backyard. But that is no longer the case.

"There's a lot of pollution, nobody can be outside. I don't even let my two granddaughters outside all day," Heredia said.

Everything changed when the King Metal Recycling Plant set up shop as his next-door neighbor, said Heredia. The plant is just 32 feet from his back yard fence.

Heredia is part of the Broadmoor community accusing the plant of polluting the neighborhood and causing all kinds of ailments, including cancer.

"There has to be some reason why people die in less than a year and a half. Nine people -- there has to be something wrong here," said Heredia.

Of the 693 cases cases, 593 patients were diagnosed with one form of cancer; 51 were diagnosed with two types of cancer; and, 4 were diagnosed with at least three different cancers. Only nine pediatric cases (aged 0-19 years) were reported, while 54 percent of cases were reported among people 65 years or older.

READ: Florida Department of Health report

According to the report, the major types of cancer found in the area were: prostate cancer; colorectal cancer; lung and bronchus cancer; breast cancer; leukemia, head and neck cancer, bladder cancer; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; and, stomach cancer. These cancers counted for 72% of all cancers in the areas.

A total of 379 deaths were reported by the Florida Cancer Data System during those 11 years.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Jean Monestime issued a statement on the report, saying in part: "... the rate of stomach cancer in the area is higher than that of the state of Florida. This information is troubling and bears further investigation."

READ: Miami-Dade Commissioner Jean Monestime's statement on the report

"We are concerned about a lot of things, a lot, asthma, we have pollution, a lot of pollution when they are working, the soil," said Isis Cobato.

With the new findings, residents said they feel helpless, but still they are not giving up.

"We're going to fight it. We're going to continue fighting because this is terrible," Cobato said.

The recycling plant remains closed due to unrelated county violations.

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