New data are adding to concerns that exposure to radioactive waste could be causing health problems. After World War II, Mallinckrodt Company generated nuclear waste which was dumped in Coldwater Creek in North St. Louis County contaminating the creek and surrounding areas.
The group that compiled the data, named “Coldwater Creek—Just the facts please,” started a Facebook page after noticing an increase in cancer cases among people in their late 30s and 40s who lived near the creek during their childhoods.
Reported health problems included 1,242 cases of cancer and 320 cases of auto-immune disorders, which can be caused by exposure to radiation. Among the cancers were 95 cases of brain cancer, 59 cases of thyroid cancer, and 39 cases of appendix cancer, which is diagnosed in fewer than 1,000 Americans each year. A number of additional thyroid abnormalities were also reported.
Those who compiled the information met with the St. Louis County Health Department and representatives of the federal agency for toxic substances and disease registry.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in 2013 conducted a study of six zip codes near the creek, but blamed higher rates of some cancer on lifestyle factors like smoking and unhealthy eating habits.
However, the study used data from 1996 to 2004, after most of the radiation contamination had been cleaned up. Many of the people who were part of the study didn’t live there at the time of the radiation contamination, while many who lived and played near contamination sites have since moved away according to the citizen's group conducting the survey.