Washington, DC - Today the Environment and Public Works Committee approved bipartisan legislation, S. 76, the Strengthening Protections for Children and Communities From Disease Clusters Act, to help communities determine whether there is a connection between "clusters" of cancer, birth defects and other diseases, and contaminants in the surrounding environment. S. 76, which was introduced in January 2011 by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Mike Crapo (R-ID), passed by a vote of 11-7 and will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Senator Boxer said: "I am so pleased that the committee has approved this important legislation today. Children and families in California, and across the United States, deserve to know that resources are available to them when there is any possibility of a potential disease cluster in their community. This is a step forward in investigating and addressing diseases that impact the health and well being of neighborhoods across the country. I look forward to working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle as we continue to move this bill through the Senate."

Senator Crapo said: "As a two-time cancer survivor, I know that we have much to learn about the causes of cancer. Through providing resources to affected communities and facilitating a coordinated response between federal, state and local governments, this legislation will help us learn more about disease clusters in our communities."

Throughout the country, there are communities that experience unexpected increases in the incidence of birth defects, cancer and other diseases. The legislation, S. 76, is designed to:

• Strengthen federal agency coordination and accountability when investigating these potential certain "clusters" of disease;
• 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.

S. 76 is supported by the Evangelical Environmental Network and the Trevor's Trek Foundation. This foundation was 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. Trevor testified before the Environment and Public Works Committee on March 29th during an oversight hearing on disease clusters and environmental health.