Public health officials screened nearly 2500 people for a range of health problems, from diabetes to cancer. They offered the tests for free in west Louisville, which is home to many industries, including a sewage treatment plant. A 2005 settlement involving the Metropolitan Sewer District over illegal discharges resulted in a judge’s decree that MSD pay for the screenings. But Louisville’s public health chief, Dr. Adewale Troutman, says they did not set out to prove any relationship between neighborhood pollution and illness.
“Trying to do a cause and effect study is a multi-million dollar, multi-year project, and that was outside the scope of what we were going to get the money for and outside the scope of the judge’s decree,” Troutman said.
The screenings found, however, that nearly half of the participants had some kind of cardiovascular disease. And many were diagnosed with illnesses they didn’t know they had.