Fallon, Nevada. A city with a population of only 8,000. For those who moved here it seemed like the perfect place to escape the urban sprawl and raise
a family. But something was happening to the children of Fallon. It all began with Dustin Gross. His family noticed bruises all over his body along
with little red blood specks on the surface of his skin. After blood was drawn, doctors told Dustin’s family that Dustin had acute lymphoblastic
leukemia, which strikes children, usually between the ages of 2 and 9. It causes the production of millions of defective white blood cells, destroying
the immune system, and can be fatal. Dustin immediately underwent aggressive chemotherapy.
Dustin was not alone. Over the next two years 14 more children contracted childhood leukemia in the Fallon area - an astronomical number in a
community so small. Two have lost their lives. Authorities are now convinced that the outbreak is not a coincidence. Parents are desperate to find
answers before more children become ill and possibly die.
Within weeks of Dustin Gross’s diagnosis two more children came down with childhood leukemia. The cancer treatment facility at the local hospital was
overwhelmed. RN Barbara DeBraga feared that she was looking at an abnormally high occurrence of the disease known as a cancer cluster. She contacted
the state assemblyperson for the Fallon area and an official investigation was launched. As state epidemiologist, Dr. Randall Todd prepared an all-out
inquiry, a fifth and sixth victim were diagnosed with the disease. Dr. Todd immediately sought a common denominator shared by all the victims that
might explain the epidemic. Could it be an environmental toxin? Interviews with the parents, however, produced no answers.
Dr. Todd watched helplessly as new cases continued to appear. Zach Beardsley was the ninth child diagnosed with childhood leukemia. His mother readily
opened her house to a phalanx of scientists. The search for the common denominator continued. What did all these children share that might explain
their illness? Was there something unique about Fallon that could explain why a cancer cluster appeared here? Researchers began with the water, noting
that Fallon has one of the highest rates of naturally-occurring arsenic in their water supply of any place in the nation. Researchers also found
mercury in a nearby lake and several irrigation canals – places where the children were known to play. And there was another unusual feature about
Fallon that raised red flags. Residential homes are freely intermixed with farmland in which the fields were treated with pesticides and fertilizer.
Radioactivity was also a possibility. Underground atomic tests were conducted near Fallon during the 1960s. Arsenic, mercury, pesticides. There seemed
to be no shortage of toxins in the environment. Incredibly, scientists have so far failed to link any of them to the outbreak. In fact, no studies
have ever demonstrated that these contaminants play a role in contracting childhood leukemia.
There was one final possibility. Fallon is located 10 miles from a major Naval Air Station used to train fighter pilots. The jet fuel contains
benzene, a known carcinogen. There is a pipeline which transports jet fuel right through Fallon. Was the fuel getting into the water supply? Though
there was no evidence that the water had been contaminated with jet fuel, perhaps the residents of Fallon were inhaling the jet fuel. This theory is
currently being tested on laboratory mice at the University of Arizona. Human trials may take place in the near future. While authorities search for
answers, the parents of the children suffering from leukemia in Fallon, try to remain optimistic.
The cause remains unknown but their are many guesses from the Trees to DNA. There is also an entire page devoted to the case in the Reno Gazette
Any idea to what the cause may be?