NORWOOD, Pa. (CBS) — Educators and retired teachers at Norwood Elementary are alarmed at the rate of illness and death at the school due to a possible cancer cluster in the area. This is all connected to claims there is something in the environment driving up these illnesses.
Last week, the EPA dismissed any connection to an old landfill but conceded more substantive testing was needed. The school sits a block away from the old landfills.
Teachers have tracked 104 cases of cancer and other autoimmune illnesses connected to the school alone. There are hundreds of cases in the immediate area.
Data shows 18 people, some as young as 8 years old, have died.
Records also show that, to the extent testing was completed, results for carcinogens were negative.
The committee pushed for more analysis and claims it never happened.
Eyewitness News obtained internal emails and documents as some were written from the school’s air quality committee as far back as 2014.
The paperwork reveals frustration that the district did not conduct environmental testing as allegedly promised at Norwood Elementary. One email read, “The district is dodging us and it appears to us that they are trying to hide any potential problems.
Some of those teachers also claim they were told by their union they’d face punishment if they talked to a reporter.
Paired with the EPA’s investigation of a long, covered-up landfill, those who have a connection to the school are anxious and frustrated.
“I know that, right now, everyone is sort of in a panic,” said Kelly Mack, a former first grade teacher at Norwood Elementary. “Because the fact they’ve been asking for so long for something to be done and they’re not getting the answers. And people are still getting sick.”
Mack was diagnosed with stage four metastatic inflammatory breast cancer. She’s talking to Eyewitness News because she no longer works for the Interboro School District.
“My initial compilation covers 104 people with either cancer or autoimmune diseases who reside or resided or worked at one point at Norwood,” Mack said.
Several Norwood educators reached out to Eyewitness News, claiming for years they’ve requested testing in the school.
“Being in the building and experiencing what I have experienced there, it’s heartbreaking and with the landfill, maybe there’s nothing there, but if there is something there, we need to know about it,” Mack said.
The Interboro School District superintendent, the board president nor the head of the teacher’s union returned numerous detailed requests for comment.
CBS3 also did not hear back from an attorney for the district.