Representatives of the state Department of Public Health held a public meeting at Weymouth Town Hall Thursday night, to disclose the results of a study of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, in towns abutting the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station.
The five year study of 30 Southeastern Massachusetts communities from 1998 to 2003, finds a lower rate of ALS in those communities including Middleboro, than the national average.
However, Suzanne Condon, Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Heath, said the study found increased rates of Multiple Sclerosis in the towns of Rockland, Abington and Weymouth, surrounding the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station.
“The prevalence of MS was statistically significantly higher in the three towns adjacent to the South Weymouth Naval Air Station, compared to the 30 town study area. That’s one of the questions we we’re asked (by the towns) – ‘Is MS higher in these towns? We feel like it’s higher.’ The answer to that is yes. You we’re right. It is higher.”
But Condon said it’s not likely that the contamination at the Air Station played a primary role in the increase in MS, in abutting towns.
“Importantly, from a environmental perspective, as you got closer to the base, we saw the numbers of people become fewer and fewer, suggesting that the base itself was unlikely to play a role in the prevalence of Multiple Sclerosis,” Condon explained.
Condon said the Department of Public Health will continue to monitor cases of ALS and MS in Southeastern Massachusetts.