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 Health and Wellness

Selinsgrove Borough Susquehanna Logo

The safety of Selinsgrove’s environment has been called into question by some concerned with what they perceive as a link between the Borough and reported cases of cancer. As these concerns have been raised, Borough and Susquehanna University officials continue to consult with clinical and environmental experts, communicate with state health and environment authorities, and review research studies and statistics to assure that our town and campus are safe. No evidence has been found to the contrary.

Every case of cancer is a personal tragedy and we sympathize with those who suffer with it and who have lost loved ones to it. As noted recently by Dr. Gene Weinberg, Director of the Division of Community Epidemiology for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 75,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Pennsylvania each year. Therefore, cancer patients are likely to cross paths in their neighborhoods, in school or at work. However, this does not mean the cancers are related.

Given the questions that have been raised – and the potential of this issue to harm our community – we want to share with you what we believe are key findings of our research.

Snyder County Government
  • In 2005 the Snyder County Board of Commissioners conducted a comprehensive study of potential environmental hazards in the county, including an examination of water, hazardous materials and land use.
  • The study did not find any health-related environmental hazards of concern in Snyder County in general or in Selinsgrove specifically.
The Borough of Selinsgrove
  • The Borough of Selinsgrove’s annual water tests have continually shown that the quality of water supplied through the municipal water system is safe. Both townspeople and the University use this water system.
Pennsylvania Department of Health
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Health has reviewed the reported cases of cancer and concluded that there is no indication of an environmental connection among the cancers cited.
  • Dr. Gene Weinberg, director of the Division of Community Epidemiology at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, concluded that: “Based on the types of cancer in the area and their rates, there is no indication that the ambient environment contributes to the incidence of cancer, and there are no environmental data to demonstrate that there have been human exposures to carcinogens at sufficiently high doses to increase the risk to area residents.”
  • According to the latest available state data, Snyder County had less than the expected number of cancer cases, given its population, from 1992 to 2003.
  • The rates of cancer in our area, including Selinsgrove and the Greater Susquehanna Valley, fall well within the national norms.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection:
  • DEP officials have assured us that there are no causes for concern related to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Borough.
  • Rhoads Mill, which was demolished in 2002, has been identified by some as a source of concern. DEP cited the company carrying out the demolition for failure to provide advance notice of and improper removal of material containing asbestos; subsequent analysis of the material identified it as non-friable (not easily crumbled or pulverized). DEP also monitored a clean-up of the site in 2004 to remove underground fuel tanks, and has continued to monitor the groundwater. Borough water has not been contaminated, and we have no evidence that contaminated soil extended beyond the property.
Independent Pathologist Review
  • After a review of the known cancer cases among Susquehanna University students and alumni, a respected medical pathologist stated that the incidence rates were not unusual for the population being studied, nor could the types of cancers be linked to a common factor. Additionally, he could cite no environmental risk factors for the instances of these cancers.
  • “It is in my medical opinion, therefore, that these unfortunate cases of cancer of the testis and other organs are independent of one another, that the apparent clustering of these cases is the result of chance alone, and that the factors important in the development of these tumors probably occurred many years before the students matriculated at the University,” said pathologist Dr. Arthur McTighe.
American Cancer Society
  • The probability of developing an invasive cancer from birth to age 39 is 1 in 70 for males and 1 in 50 for females. (American Cancer Society, Surveillance Research, 2006)
  • Statistical Data
    More data on rates of cancer and its causes can be found at these links:


Please Share
We urge you to share this information with others who may be concerned about the environment in the Susquehanna Valley region. The safety of the environment of the Selinsgrove and Susquehanna Valley region are of paramount importance to us. We welcome your comments and further questions at borough@selinsgrove.org or info@susqu.edu.