QLD Health to investigate Grantham floods 'cancer cluster'

Carly Walters

QLD Health to investigate Grantham floods 'cancer cluster'

Andrea Foyle and her family were the first to be rescued in Grantham.

But the flood has had long lasting effects, emotionally and physically.

Andrea was in the water for almost an hour and developed a rash a few weeks later on her legs, back, breasts and stomach.

“It's a thick purple rash that bleeds often and doesn't heal,” Andrea said.

After 7News exposed health concerns since the disaster, Andrea came forward.

“I'm not happy other people are sick but I'm glad people thought it could be from the water,” she said.

They fear old chemicals washed out of sheds could have contributed to their illnesses.

“I went and Googled chemical poisioning and a list of about 30 or 40 ailments came up, and there was probably only four I couldn't tick off, and I was like, wow,” she said.

Heather Raphael has been sick ever since the floods as well.

"Five minutes after I eat, I get bad cramps and have to rush to the loo,” she said.

Residents say they know of ten people in Grantham who have been diagnosed with cancer since the flood.

Three have died.

"Maybe it just wasn't just people in the water, maybe other people who helped out need to keep an eye out,” Andrea said.

7News has learned of two more breast cancer cases involving women who did social work in the area following the flood.

Locals Marie Van Straten and Janelle Warburton also have breast cancer.

Two weeks ago, Marie's husband Peter was diagnosed with Leukemia.

Following the 7News exclusive investigation, Queensland Health says it ‘will review the available information and work with other government departments as necessary’.

Residents are now concerned the contaminated water seeped into the soil.

Marie says she won't eat produce grown locally.

"We buy our fruit and vegetables from outside the Grantham area, which is horrible because I am a big supporter of live locally, buy locally, but there's no way I would buy locally from here,” she said.

Another cancer patient who moved to higher ground in the land swap deal told 7News she now grows her own vegetables because she does not want to eat the produce grown in the area the water swept through.

"There is now an investigation underway, I don't think there is any linkage with agricultural produce but we need the health and hospital board to conduct that investigation to get all of the facts on the table,” Minister for Health Lawrence Springborg said.

Today, the department released details of testing since the flood.

In the dairy and beef cattle industries, it did not detect any adverse findings.

Biosecurity Queensland's residue monitoring program did not detect any significant contamination issues.

Some women including Marie Anne Purton claim they have gone into early menopause.

Her property is higher and did not flood.

The 41-year-old now grows her own produce.

"Until I can see a piece of paper that says we are safe and sound, I just don't trust it fully,” she said.

Residents are calling for a Judicial Inquiry into what happened the day Grantham flooded.