Precautions for the Hartford City Baseball Field

Blackford County Concerned Citizens, in partnership with the Hoosier Environmental Council, has tested soil at Southside Elementary, the Babe Ruth baseball field in Hartford City, and Montpelier’s Little League fields for heavy metals that might have been left behind by glass factories decades ago.

All of the soil samples from Montpelier and Southside Elementary School had the same levels of arsenic and lead as soil generally does in this part of Indiana. A few deposits of arsenic and lead were found at Hartford City’s baseball field, high enough to exceed Indiana’s residential standard, but well within the standard for recreational fields.

While the arsenic and lead levels found are within state recreational field standards, they are high enough that it’s worth exercising caution when you are at Hartford City’s baseball fields. BCCC recommends parents do a few simple things to limit exposure to the soil:

  • Don’t let children get the soil in their mouths
  • After spending time there, wash your hands and children’s hands
  • Wash clothes that have soil on them (like baseball uniforms)
  • Leave shoes that have been to the site at the door, don’t wear them into your home

See full details of the soil testing here.

BCCC Forum, April 25, 2015

Blackford County Concerned Citizens Forum:

Embracing Opportunities for Community Health, Part 1 in a series

Blackford County Concerned Citizens is taking action to address environmental health concerns raised by the community including testing soil and water and doing computer-based mapping.  BCCC’s goal is to find and reduce environmental exposures that could increase the risk of cancer or neurologic disease.

More than 60 people were at City Hall in Hartford City for the Forum to hear about BCCC’s work to date.Audience







Dr. Sherrie Steiner’s Environmental Sociology class from IU-Purdue Ft Wayne (IPFW) presented the three projects they worked on this semester:

Indra speakingDr. Indra Frank, Environmental Health Project Director for the Hoosier Environmental Council, reported on health data for the county, the well testing project, and the project to test soil at sites where there used to be glass factories.  Her presentation slides.

Cheryl Mathews, Director of Education and Client Services for Cancer Services of East Central Indiana – Little Red Door, described the support services available to cancer patients in Blackford County through her agency.

Joe Castelo, president of BCCC, gave a history of the organization and described how this work was funded by donations from supporters and a grant from the Blackford County Community Foundation.  Joe asked attendees to consider renewing their support to continue BCCC’s work with a reminder that there is currently an opportunity for matching funds through the Blackford County Community Foundation.Joe Castelo and students

Click here for the event flyer.

Click here for the agenda.

Recent News Story About BCCC

In The Star Press yesterday there was an article that discussed the disturbing medical mystery in Blackford County that the rates for Cancer and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or ALS) were higher than than any other county in the state. Leah Aubrey was quoted about these statistics and the death of her father from cancer.

The article is here:

There also is an older article that was posted to the Blackford County Concerned Citizens Facebook page which discusses a case against 3M for illegal dumping in Minnesota.

The article is here:

Blackford County Concerned Citizens Volunteer Organization Meeting

We need your help today! If we are going to learn what is happening in Blackford County, we need to get everyone to fill out a survey! We need people to help get these surveys to everyone in Blackford County. We have lots of tasks that need to be done. Please attend the meeting if you are interested in helping with any of these tasks or would just like more information in general. If you are out of town but would still like to help please send an email to [email protected]• Take the survey to their church• Take the survey to their community organization• Organize a booth at community events to distribute the survey• Enter the data from the surveys• To search public records on the IDEM Virtual File Cabinet (can be done from any location)• Mapping the facilities and disease cases to make a comprehensive picture. • Fundraising• Local officers•Public Relations
Location: John XXIII Center 407 W. McDonald St Hartford City, IN
Start Time:
Date: 2011-10-09
End Time: 17:00

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

IDEM Launches Task Force

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) launches a task force to coordinate efforts between IDEM and (Indiana State Department of Health) ISDH to investigate any correlation between cancer cases and pollutants in Blackford County.

Welcome to the Blackford Couny Concerned Citizens web site

Blackford Couny Concerned Citizens formed because it seemed that there were too many people getting sick in Blackford County. The Indiana State Department of Health has confirmed that Blackford County has higher rates of thyroid, lung, bladder, colon, lymphoma and all cancer sites. In addition to the high cancer rates, there seems to be high rates of neurological disease, thyroid and developmental issues.

We are a group of residents and former residents who are working to build a healthier and stronger future for our friends and family in Blackford County. Please explore our site to learn what is going on in your backyard.

Health Questionnaire For Blackford County Citizens

We need your help to collect as many and as accurate statistics as possible so that we can demonstrate that there is an issue here.

Complete a health survey.

The information from this questionnaire will be used for staying in touch with you and for research purposes. We will keep this information confidential. You may use this survey to answer questions on behalf of a relative or friend who was not able to attend or is deceased.