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Chairman Boxer Introduces Legislation to Help Communities Investigate and Address Disease Clusters
January 22, 2013

Washington, D.C. - Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced legislation today to help communities determine whether there is a connection between "clusters" of cancer, birth defects and other diseases, and contaminants in the surrounding environment. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) is a co-sponsor of the legislation, called the Strengthening Protections for Children and Communities from Disease Clusters Act (S. 50).

Senator Boxer said: "When the same disease impacts a family, neighborhood, or community, people have a right to know if there is a common factor or related cause. I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will help our communities investigate and address devastating disease clusters as quickly as possible."

Throughout the country, there are communities that experience unexpected increases in the incidence of birth defects, cancer and other diseases. S. 50 is designed to:

• Strengthen federal agency coordination and accountability when investigating potential disease clusters;
• Increase assistance to areas impacted by potential disease clusters; and
• Authorize federal agencies to form partnerships with states and academic institutions to investigate and help address disease clusters.

The legislation is supported by the Trevor's Trek Foundation, co-founded by Charlie Smith and Susan Rosser with Trevor Schaefer, who survived after being diagnosed with brain cancer seven years ago at the age of 13. Trevor and his family have worked to raise awareness of disease clusters and their possible links to toxins in the environment, and to help build support for legislation to assist communities experiencing suspected disease clusters.

Senator Boxer and Senator Crapo also introduced S. 53, the Community Disease Cluster Assistance Act. The bill authorizes technical assistance grants to help people in communities better understand and become more involved with investigation of reported disease clusters.

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