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Proposed Louisiana law to better track cancer

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BATON ROUGE- Residents in the community of Alsen wish they knew how prevalent cancer was in their community.

The small neighborhood is just north of Baton Rouge on Scenic Highway and is surrounded by heavy industry.

"We have a high rate of miscarriages, we have a high rate of cancer deaths, and the water hasn't been fit to drink for years," said Moses Evans, who has lived in Alsen his whole life.

The residents of Alsen are in the dark about the prevalence of cancer in their neighborhoods because the state only tracks it at the parish level.

Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) is sponsoring a bill this year that would put a magnifying glass on local cancer cases, requiring the state to track it by zip code and census tract.

"So we can provide a true picture to the government of Louisiana about where those [cancer] clusters are and what we're going to do about them," said Russel Honore with the Green Army.

Environmentalists say opponents use patient privacy as a reason against collecting more specific cancer data by region. Evans said Monday he's not concerned about his privacy because Jackson's bill does not identify the specific addresses of cancer patients, just their general neighborhoods in a parish.

"Our health and our safety is important, more important than anything else," Evans said.

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