About Disease Clusters

When an unusual number of people, in a short period of time and in a small geographical area, experience adverse health events, the phenomenon is described by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a “disease cluster.” Several years ago, lawmakers were urged to pass a proposed law that would require disease clusters to be officially and more thoroughly documented.

The bill was bipartisan; it was introduced in January 2011 by California Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and was co-sponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID). The bill recently passed the U.S. Senate at the end of 2015 and will aim to increase coordination, transparency, and accountability between federal agencies when these groups investigate and address potential disease clusters across the United States. The law will help protect citizens and future generations by documenting the disease and its spread and working to find connections between disease clusters and potential environmental hazards.

The Story Behind Trevor’s Law

This law—the “Strengthening Protections for Children and Communities from Disease Clusters Act”—is being called Trevor’s Law, because it is named for Trevor Schaefer, a 21-year-old resident of Boise, Idaho who survived brain cancer after being diagnosed with the disease at age 13. After his illness, Trevor and his family started a foundation called “Trevor’s Trek Foundation,” which fights for better investigations into disease clusters.

The Schaefer family testified at the same Senate hearing as Erin Brockovich, a legal activist, president of Brockovich Research & Counseling, and subject of the film Erin Brockovich. Of the law, Ms. Brockovich said: “Trevor is a young man from Idaho who beat a brain tumor. And he just made it his life’s work as a youth to try to get greater exposure for something I’ve been working on for years. Trevor’s Law is very inspirational.”

How Are Disease Clusters Affecting U.S. Citizens?

Once a rare phenomenon, it appears that disease clusters are becoming far more common. According to a joint study published in 2011 by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Disease Clusters Alliance, there are at least 42 known disease clusters in 13 U.S. states; citizens in the affected populations have developed numerous types of cancer, birth defects, and several other chronic illnesses.

Disease clusters are just one of many signs that pollution and environmental contamination is negatively impacting public health and safety. If you or a loved one has developed a serious illness or injury that may have been caused by environmental contamination, you should not hesitate to discuss the situation with a Houston injury attorney from our legal team. There could be a legal component to your case that is worth examining.

Many companies and factories continue with their operations without due regard for how their actions affect neighboring communities. As a result, issues such as water and air pollution plague whole towns and cause cancer rates and other illnesses to skyrocket. Yet even when the connection seems obvious, public officials are often much too slow in their responses, dragging their feet rather than taking action to protect the lives and health of those affected. You have every right to pursue a claim against the corporation responsible.

Contact a Houston personal injury lawyer from Arnold & Itkin today if you have questions.

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