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A Story of Toxic Chemicals, Cancer, and Waukegan, IL

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The environment is another issue on the minds of people in the Midwest. Just north of Chicago in Waukegan, Illinois--a stretch of lakefront was known for its promising manufacturing base and good fishing. But in the 1970s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discovered dangerous levels of polychlorinated biphenyl oils in the water. PCBs are believed to cause harmful health effects, including cancer. In 1993, the area was declared ‘mostly clean' after the EPA removed tons of PCB-soaked material from the harbor.

Nancy Nichols would say it wasn't enough. She and her sister Sue grew up not far from those lake shores in Waukegan. The book, Lake Effect: Two Sisters and a Town’s Toxic Legacy, sheds light on the role environmental pollution played in the ovarian cancer that killed Sue Nichols and the rare form of pancreatic cancer that afflicted the author. Eight Forty-Eight's Alison Cuddy recently talked with Nancy Nichols who read an excerpt of the book that reveals its impetus.

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