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42 U.S. Code § 280g–17 - Designation and investigation of potential cancer clusters

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(a) DefinitionsIn this section:
(1) Cancer cluster

The term “cancer cluster” means the incidence of a particular cancer within a population group, a geographical area, and a period of time that is greater than expected for such group, area, and period.

(2) Particular cancer

The term “particular cancer” means one specific type of cancer or a type of cancers scientifically proven to have the same cause.

(3) Population group

The term “population group” means a group, for purposes of calculating cancer rates, defined by factors such as race, ethnicity, age, or gender.

(b) Criteria for designation of potential cancer clusters
(1) Development of criteria

The Secretary shall develop criteria for the designation of potential cancer clusters.

(2) RequirementsThe criteria developed under paragraph (1) shall consider, as appropriate—
a standard for cancer cluster identification and reporting protocols used to determine when cancer incidence is greater than would be typically observed;
scientific screening standards that ensure that a cluster of a particular cancer involves the same type of cancer, or types of cancers;
the population in which the cluster of a particular cancer occurs by factors such as race, ethnicity, age, and gender, for purposes of calculating cancer rates;
the boundaries of a geographic area in which a cluster of a particular cancer occurs so as not to create or obscure a potential cluster by selection of a specific area; and
the time period over which the number of cases of a particular cancer, or the calculation of an expected number of cases, occurs.
(c) Guidelines for investigation of potential cancer clustersThe Secretary, in consultation with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and representatives of State and local health departments, shall develop, publish, and periodically update guidelines for investigating potential cancer clusters. The guidelines shall—
(1) recommend that investigations of cancer clusters
use the criteria developed under subsection (b);
use the best available science; and
rely on a weight of the scientific evidence;
provide standardized methods of reviewing and categorizing data, including from health surveillance systems and reports of potential cancer clusters; and
provide guidance for using appropriate epidemiological and other approaches for investigations.
(d) Investigation of cancer clusters
(1) Secretary discretionThe Secretary
in consultation with representatives of the relevant State and local health departments, shall consider whether it is appropriate to conduct an investigation of a potential cancer cluster; and
in conducting investigations shall have the discretion to prioritize certain potential cancer clusters, based on the availability of resources.
(2) Coordination

In investigating potential cancer clusters, the Secretary shall coordinate with agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services and other Federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

(3) Biomonitoring

In investigating potential cancer clusters, the Secretary shall rely on all appropriate biomonitoring information collected under other Federal programs, such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The Secretary may provide technical assistance for relevant biomonitoring studies of other Federal agencies.

(e) DutiesThe Secretary shall—
ensure that appropriate staff of agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services are prepared to provide timely assistance, to the extent practicable, upon receiving a request to investigate a potential cancer cluster from a State or local health authority;
maintain staff expertise in epidemiology, toxicology, data analysis, environmental health and cancer surveillance, exposure assessment, pediatric health, pollution control, community outreach, health education, laboratory sampling and analysis, spatial mapping, and informatics;
consult with community members as investigations into potential cancer clusters are conducted, as the Secretary determines appropriate;
collect, store, and disseminate reports on investigations of potential cancer clusters, the possible causes of such clusters, and the actions taken to address such clusters; and
provide technical assistance for investigating cancer clusters to State and local health departments through existing programs, such as the Epi-Aids program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Assessments of Chemical Exposures Program of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
(July 1, 1944, ch. 373, title III, § 399V–6, as added Pub. L. 114–182, title I, § 21(b), June 22, 2016, 130 Stat. 510.)
Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Purposes of Trevor’s Law

Pub. L. 114–182, title I, § 21(a), June 22, 2016, 130 Stat. 510, provided that:

“The purposes of this section [enacting this section] are—
to provide the appropriate Federal agencies with the authority to help conduct investigations into potential cancer clusters;
to ensure that Federal agencies have the authority to undertake actions to help address cancer clusters and factors that may contribute to the creation of potential cancer clusters; and
to enable Federal agencies to coordinate with other Federal, State, and local agencies, institutes of higher education, and the public in investigating and addressing cancer clusters.”