Leukemia cluster: Don’t let emotions top science | NevadaAppeal.com

Leukemia cluster: Don’t let emotions top science

Results from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention genetic study of Fallon’s leukemia cluster families provide an intriguing addition to the ongoing saga of the town’s unfortunate health issue.

The discovery that 11 cluster children share a common genetic variation that combats dangerous chemicals in the bodies could be a vital clue in determining the cause or causes behind the cluster that has sickened 17 children and killed three.

But as with every other piece of research so far produced, there is no silver bullet, no obvious conclusion, no glaring cause. This information should be treated like every other study related to the cluster, another piece in a slowly growing body of information.

That there’s no black-and-white answer leads some to start pointing fingers and jumping to conclusions – some sometimes not-so-logical conclusions. We urge folks to be cautious.

The ongoing investigation into Fallon’s cluster centers around children, a subject innately laden with emotion. In the massive and ongoing efforts of private and governmental researchers, several theories have been proposed. Kennametal, NAS Fallon, Kinder Morgan and other industrial-type operations have come under scrutiny as possible sources behind the cluster.

Perhaps one of those entities played a factor in the cluster, perhaps not. We don’t believe that the cluster is simply a statistical anomaly, an assumption backed up by scientists’ reports.

But inappropriate and sometimes libelous and defamatory rumblings have emerged locally against some of the above-mentioned firms, as well as local officials. Statements are made without sound scientific backing.

If a local cause is ever found, or evidence of a coverup is brought to light, those responsible must be held accountable. But until that time, objectivity is needed in order to encourage constructive dialogue and maintain an air of civility regarding the investigation. Cluster families deserve answers. Local residents deserve answers. They deserve them as quickly as sound scientific research allows. The investigation of Fallon’s cluster should not cease until a cause is determined. But until that time, residents should not let emotion get in the way of sound science.

– Lahontan Valley News