Letter to Florida Governor DeSantis on Cancer Rates and Water Quality Concerns

Dear Governor DeSantis,

I’m writing this letter to bring forward my concerns for the health of communities and how it relates to the quality of water throughout Florida.

As of 2011, cancer is the leading cause of death for Floridians, surpassing heart disease. In a three-year period, the total number of cancer deaths was 122,921. This is important because awareness, prevention, and healthcare need priority in Florida. The Cancer Society graded Florida among the worst-performing states in implementing policies to fight and prevent cancer.

In March 2018, a DoD report revealed that at least 126 military bases had water contaminants linked to cancer. Unfortunately, the PFAS contaminants were found where I grew up; Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and Kennedy Space Center. Patrick AFB tests show PFAS levels at 71-4,300,000[million] ppt, and CCAFS shows levels at 74-53,000 ppt when the EPA safety limit is 70 ppt. Even more alarming is that the chemicals were found in the blood and tissues of wildlife at the highest levels of toxic fluorinated chemicals ever measured in the species. Additionally, these contaminants are in the Indian River Lagoon. Since mullet harbor, the toxins in their flesh are a great concern because dolphins (and people) eat these fish.

With military bases being investigated across the country, it’s na├»ve to assume that our men and women in uniform and surrounding communities were not affected. This is especially true for Patrick Air Force Base, as they made headlines in the 90s for an unusually high rate of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. There were 27 cases between the base and neighboring community, 17 times higher than the national rate of 1.6 to 2.8 cases per 100,000 people (the community only had 1,415 people).

Determined to continue helping our communities, we are taking the initiative to fund tests and protect the health of future generations. We are connecting families facing unimaginable illnesses with no predisposition to help combat decades of pollution in their communities.

Mr. Governor, I ask that you protect the health of Floridians and prioritize legislation that would help strengthen efforts to do so. Please evaluate and strengthen the Department of Environmental Protection and enforce Trevor’s Law to honestly ensure that the FDOH evaluates these cases of potential clusters. Lastly, support the scientific community as we all work together to make Florida healthy again. I believe you could make Florida the leader in doing what’s right for our families in this nationally recognized issue. Help us get as close to zero pollutants, toxic chemicals, waste, cancer, and disease as possible.


Stel Bailey

[1]www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/cancer/index.html [2]cancerstatisticscenter.cancer.org/#!/state/Florida 

 [4]Paper published in 2018 in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mPHikJr6U26aj5fj0L5rWeeoyR6-DoZY/view?usp=sharing

Stel Bailey

Stel Bailey, a cancer cluster survivor and environmental health advocate, is a researcher and journalist with more than two decades of multimedia experience, having been published globally.

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