A new Facebook group is pushing for answers to rising health concerns in the Allegan County city of Otsego. Justice for Otsego is looking for stories of area residents who have suffered major medical issues like cancer as well as autoimmune and reproductive issues.

A survey being conducted by Justice for Otesgo shows responses with dozens on instances of cancer, hysterectomies and hyperthyroidism. The survey asks about exposure to the Kalamazoo River either from swimming or eating fish.

What is a Cancer Cluster

Cancer clusters appear around the world. They are defined as a group of people suffering from a cancer in a shared geographic area over a certain period of time.

Well known cancer clusters in the United States include Clyde, Ohio where childhood cancer rates spiked between 1996 and 2003 and Toms River, New Jersey which had high rates of brain cancer in residents attributed to a former chemical plant.

Michigan Cancer Hot Spots

Around Michigan there are a few known cancer "hot spots." A journalist told MichiganRadio.org that one of the hot spots are the counties near the Tittabawasee River in mid-Michigan running through Midland.

“The number one culprit that everybody points to is the DOW chemical plant, which from 1890 to the 1970s, discharged all kinds of waste that were later found out to be carcinogenic into the river,” Sinclair said. “And the cleanup continues today.”

Importantly, the story concludes, the cancer hot spots have a lake or river with "a history of environmental abuse in common."

The Otsego Meeting

Those who have a story to tell about their health experience in Otsego are encouraged to be at an event Saturday March 10 at Otsego District Library on Dix Street.  Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and Michigan Department of Health will be on hand to hear from area residents. The event begins at 10AM.

BONUS VIDEO - A Peaceful Winter Visit to Brookside Park in Otsego

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