Groups to Host Community Event on Cancer Levels in Indiana Industrial Town

Hoosier Environmental Council, Concerned Citizens of Blackford County to Hold Public Health Workshop

HARTFORD CITY – MAY 10, 2011 – Citizens from Blackford County will meet on May 21st in the county seat of Hartford City, located 75 miles northeast of Indianapolis, to attend a first-ever Public Health Workshop focused on high levels of cancer in the county. Blackford County , once home to a number of automobile, chemical, gas and glass companies, has one of the highest levels of cancer, per person, in Indiana , according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

“We’ve been concerned and alarmed by the number of our neighbors who have been diagnosed with some form of cancer in the last ten years,” said Joe Castelo, former Mayor of Hartford City. Castelo, along with his daughter Katherine, and fellow Hartford City native Kathy Dunsmore, founded Blackford County Concerned Citizens (BCCC) to help educate the community on cancer levels in their community, understand what might be causing those high rates, and what people can do about it at the individual and community level.

BCCC is co-hosting the Public Health Workshop with the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC), the state’s largest environmental policy organization. “We’re concerned that Blackford County ’s apparent cancer cluster might have some relationship with the number of abandoned industrial sites in the county,” remarked Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of HEC. Indiana, as a whole, ranks 10th in the nation in terms of hazardous waste production and in the top 5 for arsenic, benzene, chromium, and sulfuric acid toxic releases, according to the US EPA. When releases contaminate the air or water at unsafe levels, they can cause a variety of illnesses, including cancer, according to extensive research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The BCCC-HEC Public Health Workshop will be held on May 21, 2011 at the Lake Placid Conference Center in Hartford City at 1 pm. Registration is free. To RSVP or for directions, visit