A 60-year battle to identify the sources of a cancer cluster affecting children in an Ocean County community is now the topic of a new book.

Flickr User Steve A Johnson

NYU Science Journalism Professor Dan Fagin is coming to Toms River this Thursday to discuss his book titled, 'Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation'.

Fagin says he chose to write about Toms River for several reasons.

One reason, he says, is because it's a human story that came to light because of concerned citizens.

"The only reason it eventually did come out was because at key moments people spoke up and the other really important reason is that there are very few places where the science has really been done."


Fagin says a scientific study demanded by the public and political leaders showed that there was indeed a connection to girls with leukemia and exposure to two different kinds of pollution in town, air pollution from the old CIBA Plant and water contamination through the Parkway Wells which had been contaminated by the Reich Farm Dumping.

Fagin says Toms River is a part of a much bigger story about the slow progress we've made in understanding the relationship between environmental pollution and cancer.

Fagin says he interviewed 140 people in Ocean County on the record and dozens more off the record. He says he also had hundreds of documents available for his research. Fagin says a lot of people were uncomfortable in talking about the sensational public health crises of the past but still found many to be receptive.

"On the other hand, I was really struck by the number of people who understood what I wanted to do, to tell the story in all its complexity and believe that the lessons of Toms River were important."

Fagin will be at the Toms River Branch of the Ocean County Library on Thursday, April 4th at 7 p.m.