The Department of Health in Pennsylvania sucks!

Or so says Merle Wertman, 62, who–along with 131 people near his hometown of Tamaqua, Penn., has been diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera. Don’t know what Polycythemia Vera is? Hey, join the ignoramus club over here at, where even our scrawny hypochondriac of a wheezy copy editor was blissfully unaware of the rare blood disorder, although darned if he isn’t suddenly feeling all symptomatic. According to this article, “. . less than one in 100,000 Americans a year are diagnosed with the extremely rare form of bone marrow cancer, that causes an abnormal increase in blood cells.”

Hold on a sec, there!, the astute but inarticulate reader might say: is concerned about this because. . . ? Isn’t there kind of an out-of-your-bailiwick kinda deal going on here? Well, let us respond with all the tact we can muster that the question is not only poorly stated but also totally out of line, because we can write about whatever the hell strikes our fancy, because it happens to be our blog, OK?

But, that being said (and clearly understood) there’s a reason to believe that toxins from so-called “clean coal” production near Tamaqua is seeping into the area’s groundwater, and possibly contributing in a major way to the high incidence of this cancer.

We’ll let Wertman elaborate on the suckiness he attributes to the aforementioned Pennsylvania Dept. of Health:

He [Wertman] gets angry when he thinks about the blood cancer rate in his hometown and the lack of accountability for its causes. “The Department of Health in Pennsylvania sucks,” he said. “[They] say there’s nothing wrong with the environment around here…It’s bullshit, back and forth.”

Are clean-coal by-products causing Polycythemia Vera? Does the health department of the Keystone State truly suck? We’ll insert the money graf below and then let you loose on the well-written, information-packed, scary-as-hell article, [by Suemehda Sood for the Washington Independent] after which you can make your own assessment of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health, and hey, let’s throw in the EPA, as well. We insinuate, you decide.

In eastern Pennsylvania’s Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill counties, that surround the Tamaqua borough, the rate of the rare blood cancer is 4.5 times the national rate, according to data from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a federal public health agency of the Dept. of Health and Human Services. The cancer “cluster” (shown on the map below) follows along Ben Titus Road, next to the Big Gorilla coal combustion waste dump of the Northeastern Power Co. The area is also home to the Superfund sites McAdoo Associates, Air Product & Chemicals Inc., Expert Management Inc. and ICI Americas Inc.


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