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Sununu Will Use Surplus Funds To Study N.H.’s High Pediatric Cancer Rates

Dan Tuohy / NHPR
Two-term N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu delivered his inaugural address Jan. 3, 2019.

In his inaugural address Thursday, Gov. Chris Sununu promised a broad study of New Hampshire’s high pediatric cancer rates.

New Hampshire had the highest rates in the country of certain childhood cancers from 2003 to 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s on top of two confirmed clusters of rare pediatric cancers on the Seacoast.

State commissions and agencies have looked into drinking water contamination and hazardous waste sites as possible causes, but they haven't reached any consensus.

Advocates have called in the past for a broader look at the problem.

Now Sununu says he’ll use state surplus money to deliver on that idea – commissioning a study on the scope of pediatric cancer in New Hampshire, and looking at possible solutions.

State Sen. Tom Sherman, a Democrat from Rye and a doctor by trade, welcomes that step. He says the state already has data to mine on the types and locations of its pediatric cancer cases.

“Once you’ve pulled it out, then the place where you need the expertise is in the interpretation,” he says.

Sherman plans to propose legislation this year to give state agencies more tools to investigate patterns of pediatric and adult cancer on their own, without as much outside support.

He says he hopes the governor’s planned study will also pave the way for more similar research into the state's adult cancer rates.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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