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by Wayne Sinclair, M.D.
Richard Pressinger, M.Ed.
Allergy, Asthma & Immunology,
Vero Beach, Florida  
Tel. (561) 770-1944


Neuroblastoma Research Index
Click any neuroblastoma topic below for information

The Chlordane Problem - Evidence linking neuroblastoma with homes containing the pesticide chlordane
What is Neuroblastoma? - Defines specifics of this cancer
Neuroblastoma Cases - Doctors believe these neuroblastoma cases resulted from chlordane exposure
Defective Immune Systems - Weak immune systems can't eliminate cancer cells in neuroblastoma patients


Neuroblastoma and Chlordane
The following report provides evidence linking the common child cancer called neuroblastoma with exposure to the termite pesticide chlordane. Although chlordane use was stopped in April of 1988, U.S. Air Force and Department of New Jersey Environmental Regulation research shows it is being found in approximately 75% of homes built before 1988 and at dangerously high levels in approximately 7% of pre-1988 homes. Evidence below discusses how neuroblastoma cancers are appearing in homes treated with the pesticide chlordane.

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Defining Neuroblastoma
Neuroblastoma is the most common cancer affecting children today. It is a disease in which cancer cells are found in certain nerve cells within the body. Neuroblastoma typically begins in the abdominal area either in the adrenal gland (located just above the kidney) or around the spinal cord in the neck, chest, or pelvis. As the prognosis for neuroblastoma patients is not encouraging, it is important to identify environmental circumstances that can contribute to the disease, once these are identified, they can be removed, thereby improving the likelihood for spontaneous remission.

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Neuroblastoma Linked to the Termite Pesticide Chlordane
Source: Scandinavian Journal of Work & Environmental Health, 4:137-150, 1978

Children with neuroblastoma were diagnosed at a single pediatric hospital between December 1974 and February 1976. During this period, a total of 14 cases of neuroblastoma were admitted. A history of exposure to toxic agents indicates that five cases had prior exposure to chlordane formulations. These cases are outlined below:

Case #1 – 2 year old girl dies from neuroblastoma
A two year and eight month-old girl was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in December 1974. A biopsy confirmed neuroblastoma of the right adrenal glad involving the kidney. Both organs were removed. The child was given radiation treatment and chemotherapy. She died in September 1976. During the first trimester of gestation, the 28 year old mother’s home was treated for termite infestation with over 100 gallons of a 1% chlordane formulation. On the outside of the house, the entire perimeter was treated with subsurface injection, and the ground surface also was sprayed in an area extending up to about two feet out from the house. On the inside of the house, holes were drilled into the cement blocks in the basement, chlordane was injected into the holes and the holes were re-cemented. The mother states that the odor from the pesticide was offensive inside the house, and, since she was concerned about the possible effects on the developing fetus, she slept at a neighbor’s home on the evening of the first day of application. The mother returned home on the second home but stated the odor was very strong for 3-4 days, but was noticeable for two weeks after the initial treatment.

Case #2Neuroblastoma affects 4 year old boy
A four year old boy entered the hospital in July of 1975 with a two week history of lethargy, decreased appetite, and right leg pain. Abdominal palpation and subsequent diagnostic x-rays showed a mass in the right paravertebral area. Exploratory surgery revealed a tumor in what is called  as the right paravertebral area, with metastases to regional lymph nodes. A biopsy of the bone marrow showed malignant cells. This was categorized as a stage IV neuroblastoma. A history of exposure to toxic substances revealed that the mother had been exposed to chlordane during her entire pregnancy. One year prior to conception, the house was treated with chlordane for roach infestation. The pest control operator returned every six months to spray under the sink and baseboards.

Case #34 year old girl develops neuroblastoma
A four year old girl was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in November 1975. Two weeks before admission to the hospital, the child experienced abdominal pain. At the time of hospitalization, a mass was detected in her upper right quadrant. An abnormal left kidney was also detected although no abnormalities were seen with the bone marrow. When the child was 23 months old, the parents moved into a recently purchased house. Just prior to their moving, the newly acquired house was treated for termites by the spraying of chlordane around the baseboards and on the inside of the kitchen cupboards. Holes were drilled into the basement walls, and procedure chlordane was pressure sprayed into the ground. Holes were then sealed with cement. A history of prior illness revealed that the child had a urinary infection at ages 18 and 24 months, at which time diagnostic x-rays were made. The child was also x-rayed because of trauma to the head in May 1974.

Case #4Limping is first evidence of neuroblastoma in 3 year old
The first evidence of neuroblastoma in a 3 year old boy included limping and general changes in gait five weeks prior to admission to the hospital. X-rays and bone scans showed involvement of several areas of the skeleton, particularly the skull and long bones. Bone marrow tests found and almost complete replacement of the marrow cells by clumps of tumor cells which were consistent with neuroblastoma (stage IV). Two years prior to the child’s birth and also when he was two years old, the house was treated for termite infestation with chlordane, with the usual procedures for application.

Case #5Leg pains first evidence of neuroblastoma in 6 year old girl
A six year old girl was diagnosed in February 1976 as having neuroblastoma, stage IV. The child developed leg and hip pains two months prior to admission. Subsequent bone marrow analysis indicated tumor cells which were identified as neuroblastoma. Because of an ant infestation, the father purchased a container of chlordane dust which he applied several times around the outside foundation of the house in the autumn of 1973, which the child was three years and eight months of age. The process was repeated in the spring of 1974.

Of the nine additional cases of neuroblastoma, history of exposure to chlordane is not known, because no formal study has yet been conducted.

Because of the strong links of neuroblastoma and chlordane, it is very important that patient’s with neuroblastoma who are living in a home built before 1988 have their home tested for chlordane.

For more information on cancer and illnesses linked to chlordane and methods for testing chlordane the air – please visit our website our chlordane information website

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Immune System Defects Found in Neuroblastoma Patients  
3 major research studies have found immune system defects in children with neuroblastoma.  The significance of this becomes apparent once it is understood that the immune system is responsible for removing cancer cells from the body. In other words, without an effective immune system to rid the body of growing cancer cells, the neuroblastoma would be able to grow and develop in a human being. On the other hand, if the individual has a properly functioning immune system, any growing cancer cells would be recognized and immediately removed  from the body.  The pesticide chlordane has been found to cause serious paralysis of immune system function. Details of this research will be posted here shortly.

For more information on health problems from chlordane please click Chlordane Website

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