The Tri-County Polycythemia Vera Community Advisory Committee (Tri-County PV CAC) will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Sept. 22 at the Tamaqua Area School District Auditorium on Stadium Hill, 500 Penn Street.

The scope of the meeting is to provide the public with information on a number of ongoing health-oriented studies aimed at determining the extent of polycythemia vera and related myeloproliferative diseases (MPDs) and their possible link to environmental conditions in the area.

Polycythemia vera is a rare blood cancer in which the body produced too many red blood cells. A cluster of polycythyemia vera has been detected in the tri-county area of Schuylkill, Carbon and Luzerne, concentrated around Ben Titus Road in Still Creek.

Research has discovered a genetic mutation, known commonly as JAK2, that has been identified in polycythemia vera patients.

At Wednesday's meeting, Dr. Vince Seaman of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will give an overall summary of the research and a number of the research leaders will be present to answer questions on their specific studies.

Drexel University investigators will attempt to determine factors that may contribute to the PV cluster in the Tamaqua-Hazelton area by examining environmental and occupational histories (and other factors) of patients with PV and MPD related disease and comparing them with those free of these diseases.

The University of Pittsburgh team is conducting a study that will compare PV rates in the Tamaqua-Hazelton area to those in four western Pa. counties to look for similarities and differences in the two coal-producing areas that can provide clues to the causes of the disease.

Tamaqua Mayor Christian Morrison will chair the meeting and explain the role of the CAC community organization.

"Several of these teams will soon be conducting interviews in our area, so it is critical that we get as much information as possible," said Morrison in a news release. "We have a serious health threat in our area and one that may affect future generations. We need to find out why we have a cancer cluster and eliminate the cause. In the meantime, we need to take good care of the patients and their families."