Delaware’s overall cancer death rate ranks 11th in the Nation and there are lung cancer clusters around the Indian River power plant. Six zip codes near the Indian River power plant have shown an abnormally high rate of lung cancer that has caused state officials to create a “total exposure assessment monitoring” program. This program, which is still in the planning phase, will have individuals undergoing batteries of hair, blood and urine tests and have them wearing devices to measure air pollutants. The monitoring program is planned to last five years and cost $5 million. It will be funded by a combination of local, state and federal funds.
Delaware has been the home for chemical companies (it was known as the “Chemical Capital of the World”) and other industrial plants that may be the sources for toxic exposures. Delaware’s age-adjutsed cancer rate was also 6 percent above the national average and its death rate is 17 percent higher than the national average. Additionally, Delaware has some of the dirtiest air in the country. Additionally, in the Delaware medical community there have long been anecdotal stories of specific communities with unsually high rates of particluar cancers.
While exposure to toxins and pullatants can have an impact on cancer rates, it is also clear that various other factors can play a significant role. Smoking rates have a significant impact on cancer rates, as can excessive sun exposure. Stopping (or preferably never starting) smoking and wearing sun screen can go a long way to preventing the development of cancer.