Addressing Water Quality Concerns: Tallahassee's Role in Improving Community Health

TALLAHASSEE, FL., The Governor's Office of Policy and Budget met with families affected by cancer and experts to discuss the worries regarding water quality and how it can affect the health of communities in Florida.

Cheryl Joza, who has been advocating for 15 years, attended the meeting. Her sister, Terri Jewell, tragically passed away from cancer after being exposed to toxins at Bayshore High School. This devastating loss led Joza to investigate further, and she discovered that other classmates from the high school had also been diagnosed with cancer. Determined to gather information and find answers, Joza contacted medical professionals such as an Epidemiologist, Toxicologist, Biostatistician, and Geologist, who all expressed serious concerns after reviewing the data. Joza found evidence of toxins in the water, precisely a mile north of the school where a machine shop business used to operate. Shocked by the decades of environmental negligence and lack of cleanup, she embarked on a mission to protect children from harmful exposures.

“I represent the thoughts and feelings of most of the victims and their families from all over the state. We are concerned about the current state of the beaches we once loved, which are now covered in dead marine animals. The once clear blue waters are murky and filled with toxins, making swimming too dangerous. Additionally, the air has become polluted and risks our health. As individuals responsible for protecting lives, we urge the leaders of Florida to stop ignoring these problems, acknowledge the connection between pollution and its consequences, take immediate actions to clean up the environment, and hold those responsible accountable. Jozsa expressed these concerns. Native Floridians are using their abilities and working together to safeguard their land and its people," said Joza.

Emerald Cromwell, a nurse from Pinellas County who cares about the environment, attended the meeting. She was diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) and found out that others in the community were also dealing with this rare and unforgettable type of cancer. Cromwell discovered that two people she knew from St. Petersburg had received treatment for the same cancer as her. Sadly, she also lost her best friend since kindergarten, Shannon Jagger, to the same disease. Cromwell is determined to make a difference by spreading awareness, raising money for research, and advocating for healthier communities. 

Stel Bailey, a person who survived cancer and a well-known advocate, along with Jeff Dubitsky, a father of five children, David Woodhouse, an expert in studying underground water, and some other nurses and environmental scientists, have all spoken out about the urgent need to bring attention to the possible risks of dangerous chemicals present in and near industrial areas. They have also highlighted the importance of fixing the pollution of water sources as soon as possible.

In the discussion, the experts highlighted the need to tackle PFAS contamination. They suggested prohibiting the use of any new PFAS variants and chemical classes. Additionally, they recommended that Florida impose strict water standards for all PFAS, demand reporting of any PFAS releases, and clean up any water supply contamination around military bases.

“"We should have stricter policies to protect Florida communities from toxic exposures. Allowing big industries to pollute the environment has consequences, so it's crucial to limit the amount of toxins in our surroundings as much as possible," Bailey said.

Fight for Zero's goal is to unite communities in Florida and collaborate with state officials to address issues that impact people's health and the environment. They have suggested a solution called the Taskforce Committee, which includes citizens and government representatives. They also discussed a program similar to their initial campaign, Florida Health Connection, to address cancer cases. The main focus is to tackle the increasing issue of polluted waterways and its effects on public health.

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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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