Friday, October 19, 2007
Mom fears 'stinky neighborhood' caused son's cancer
HOUSTON, Texas -- Six-year-old Valentin Marroquin went from being apparently healthy one moment to battling leukemia the next. As his mother Rosario Marroquin started searching for answers, she kept coming back to their Houston, Texas, neighborhood, and the stench that often envelopes it.

"We're the stinky neighborhood," she said. "But we've gotten so used to it that we don't know that's just how we smell."

The Marroquin family lives in the Manchester area of Houston, next to the Houston ship channel, the largest petrochemical complex in the United States. Day after day, oil refineries and petrochemical companies pump hazardous pollutants, including known cancer-causing chemicals like benzene and 1-3 butadiene, into the air.

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-- From MaryAnne Fox, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 12:36 PM ET
  15 Comments
I do think that all of the pollutants that these companies put out into the air cause many diseases. I find it alarming that Texas has no laws governing how much pollutants can be emitted! That is just crazy! And I do think where these companies usually end up is the poorer neighborhoods! And that is because they can't fight it to stop them from being built! There is no way you'd find one of these companies in Manhattan or Hollywood...NO WAY!!

The only thing that can stop this is stricter laws! But when you have these huge companies worth millions they can easily get people in their back pockets and get these laws struck down! That is the problem!!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 1:06 PM ET
Here in California we have Proposition 65. From the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment website: "Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986. The Proposition was intended by its authors to protect California citizens and the State's drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals."
Notices appear in the newspaper quite frequently which inform the public of the location of hazardous sites. These are usually in places where people with means would not live. I don't know if this is a chicken or the egg situation. Do people with money not want to live there because of the dangerous chemicals or did the companies producing these chemicals chose these sites because the land was cheap? Although it is good to be informed of the hazards, what I want to know is why these companies are even allowed to emit toxic waste in built up areas. Profits before safety yet again, I suppose.
Posted By Barbara : 1:10 PM ET
It is scary to think about all the chemicals around us and how much more lax the EPA has been under Bush, who claims that companies will do right simply out of the goodness of their hearts and that different industries can police themselves. Um, how'd that work for the victims of the Sago mine disaster, which had dangerous conditions?

What is even more scary is how environmental pollution more often affects poorer kids because our less-affluent neighborhoods are seen as dumping grounds. For example, I know asthma rates in poorer areas of New York City are higher than they are in more affluent areas.

What I would really love to see an in-depth piece on is how global warming and other environmental factors are predicted to increase disease rates both here and abroad unless we take the necessary--and often simple--steps in curbing them.

I know whenever I pass Seacacus, NJ, on my way to NYC by train, it smells like somebody passed gas, and that is because of the refineries (or at least that's the story were sticking to, since there was no dog on board), so it must be awful to be breathing that constantly instead of the few barely breathable minutes on the train.

Best of luck to Valentin and his family. I hope the recent cutbacks in healthcare for kids won't be another way our country has failed him.
Posted By Norah, West Chester, PA : 2:27 PM ET
and knowing that these companies do so NOBODY doeas anything? or maybe it is because we're talking about TEXAS that nobody does anything. i find it absolutely disgusting.
Posted By em : 3:22 PM ET
This is nothing new. Where you do suppose the stonecutters who built the pyramids lived? Not uptown, that's for damn sure. Nothing in life is easy. You want out, fight for it. Otherwise too damn bad. Somebody has to collect the garbage.
Posted By Ralf, Starkville, MS : 3:55 PM ET
Hello, I am a privately funded chemist in North Carolina. For the past six years our research has primarily been on toxins, bacteria, enzymes, and proteins found in the production and distribution of common foods. Our findings thus far have been very disturbing. Foods such as bread and eggs have been found to contain almost triple the toxins and harmful bacteria depending on the air quality where the food is manufactured. So their is no doubt in my mind that air quality not only affects health of the neighborhood in question but any food products leaving that area. This should become a concern for everyone. We are all greatly affected by the destructive and corrupted nature of greed. In a perfect world, communities would have local testing done on air quality monthly and the source of pollution would be stopped completely. If not, the company responsible would no longer be able to manufacture there products in the United States. Ahh… the perfect world… keep dreamin’ folks.
Posted By Anonymous : 3:57 PM ET
I have no doubt at all that the pollutants caused the leukemia and numerous other lifelong illnesses for the children.

My family lived in Okmulgee, Ok for many years, just south of Tulsa. The only thing between our house and the Phillips refinery was the fair grounds. Respiratory disease has affected two of the three children.

My comment however, deals not with illness, but rather, with the company that is advertised at the end of your article. Did no on notice except me?!

Surely you noticed, but thought perhaps no one else would! 360 fans have been taught well,we miss nothing that deals with PIP!

Maggie
Posted By Anonymous : 4:01 PM ET
Texas is run by the hard core right wing of the Republican Party, aided in their grip on power by the Religious Right and Evangelicals.

These last two groups seemed to have forgotten James 2:6-7 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

No, I am afraid the religious folks keeping the rich in power will forget the poor and only count their gold. Shame on Texas.

Randy T. Lewisville, TX
Posted By Anonymous : 5:08 PM ET
Sorry to hear about Valetin Marroquin that's battling with leukemia. Can't imagine that a kid is healthy one minute and has cancer the next. My heart goes out to kids that has cancer. Hopefully the family can afford to move into a safe neighborhood soon. My thoughts and prayers is with the family it's a sad situation.

Jennifer - Anderson, South Carolina.
Posted By bluediamond (Jennifer) : 5:29 PM ET
It's so scary to think that the foods we eat and the air we breath can make us sick. I hope CNN does more on reporting about this issue. It would be great to see what you guys find out.
Posted By Anonymous : 6:01 PM ET
Here in Detroit MI we've had two incidents of companies dumping toxic or near toxic oil and chemicals. The latest one was just this week and cause the evacuation of a school. And it was later learned that the company had a few violations from previous incidents.

It amazes me that after Love Canal and the other toxic dumping incidents that the government hasn't found some way to prevent it or at least monitor these companies that have been cited. But then again this government doesn't seem to care what happens to its people especially children. They are more ready to protect the big businesses who provide them with campaign contributions.
Posted By Marcia, Warren MI : 6:29 PM ET
It sounds like The Texas Government, the US Government, and the EPA should all sit down and watch Erin Brockovich again. Big business will always take the cheapest measures to get rid of waste. The Government needs to follow through on large fines and closures of these businesses that ignore warnings to "clean up their acts". They are hurting our children, our resources, and our environment.
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 7:27 PM ET
Companies emitting pollution and doing things that make them rich and the people around them sick and their living conditions worse is not confined to one state -- It happens just about everywhere. And the poor are always the ones that suffer the most. With global warming that will only get worse. Yet Bush continues to drag his feet on the environment and to make it easier for big business to get bigger at the expense of the average citizen. When are we going to value life over the almighty dollar? I hope this child can be saved and I hope that this story makes a difference in the long run for all those other people out there who are being affected by the pollution large companies produce.
Posted By Suzanne, Knoxville TN : 9:13 PM ET
I think CNN should have more and more of their photojournalists do blogs! They are the true warriors of television news and they bring a perspective that few others can.....Phil is one of the best and his work proves it. Good job Phil....
Posted By Anonymous : 10:36 PM ET
This is just wrong that we are putting cancer causing agents in the air. This is one time we need a major class action lawsuit to stop the madness. Our children's bodies are full of dangerous chemicals. When will we wake up and take a stand. Time is running out....
Posted By Anonymous : 12:08 PM ET
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